Kelly Cooper delivers her “Rally on the Bay” campaign kick-off speech on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph in Kachemak Bay near the Deep Water Dock in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people attended the rally from onshore, in fishing and pleasure boats, and in kayaks. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Kelly Cooper delivers her “Rally on the Bay” campaign kick-off speech on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph in Kachemak Bay near the Deep Water Dock in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people attended the rally from onshore, in fishing and pleasure boats, and in kayaks. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Kelly Cooper kicks off campaign in “Rally on the Bay”

Correction: This story has been corrected to note that Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Alaska, faces no opposition for the Republican Party nomination for House District 31. John Cox of Anchor Point is running for the Republican Party nomination for Alaska Senate, District P, against incumbent Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak.

In the midst of a pandemic that has limited public gatherings, independent candidate for House District 31 Kelly Cooper and her campaign manager Amy Woodruff came up with a novel solution: Hold an event from a boat in Kachemak Bay where supporters could cheer her on from kayaks, fishing boats, pleasure craft and from the shore. “Rally on the Bay,” Cooper called it.

“I can’t think of a better place to kick off our campaign,” Cooper said out on the water. “I know what this bay means to so many of you. It’s your livelihood. It’s your backyard. It feeds your family. We are so lucky to have these incredible natural resources at our fingertips.”

On a sunny afternoon by the Deep Water Dock at the Homer Harbor, about 50 people equally spread out in boats or on the shore to hear former Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Mako Haggerty introduce Cooper, who is the current president of the assembly, and listen to her make her pitch for why they should elect her over incumbent Rep. Sarah Vance. Vance will run again as a Republican, but so far has no opposition for the party nomination.

When Cooper announced her candidacy last November, she said she would run as a non-partisan, but left the options open of seeking the Democratic Party nomination or running as an independent in the general election. Democratic Party rules allow non-partisan candidates to run under its standard, as former Rep. Paul Seaton did when he lost re-election to Vance in 2018. Woodruff confirmed that Cooper will run as an independent in the general election, pointing to the word “independent” on a Cooper campaign sign.

About 25 people listened on shore — most of them wearing face masks — while an equal number were spread out in boats, including four kayaks. Cooper spoke from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph accompanied by her children and grandchildren.

“It’s interesting times,” Haggerty said. “I think we know why we have to keep our society running.”

Haggerty spoke of Cooper’s experience on the South Peninsula Hospital Board and her two terms on the borough assembly, including her current service as president. Because of term limits, Cooper cannot run for re-election to the assembly.

“(Cooper) knows how to take charge,” he said. “She’s not about herself. She’s not a cult of personality. She’ a public servant. She’s awesome. I know she’s the right person to have on the lower peninsula — and the upper peninsula, too.”

An 18-year Alaska resident, Cooper, 58, has served on the assembly since 2014, representing District 8, the Homer and Kachemak City areas of the southern Kenai Peninsula. A widow who lost her husband, Jim, to pancreatic cancer, Cooper also has been active in spreading awareness of pancreatic cancer, serving on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and in Homer’s Relay for Life, part of a nationwide fund­ and awareness-raising effort sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Cooper owns Glacier View Cabins and Coop’s Coffee. During her time with the assembly, Cooper has served on the Borough’s Health Care Task Force, co-chaired a subcommittee creating the emergency services highway corridor service area in the Hope/Cooper Landing/Moose Pass district, served on the work group getting the Watermelon Trail rerouted and completed, and made the Homer Annex available for telephonic testimony — accomplishments she mentioned in her speech.

“My work has always been about the same things,” Cooper said. “People. Relationships. Being a member of this fabulous community and willing to help wherever needed.”

That’s why she’s running for a seat in the House, Cooper said.

“It’s always been about community,” she said. “Alaska has been so good to me and I want to continue to give back. I want to work for each and every one of you. This is a critical time for our state and Alaskans as we face massive budget deficits, cuts to state services and a shrinking PFD.”

Cooper said she puts people before party and rejects partisan politics.

“When you refuse to listen to people who disagree with you, you miss out on so much wisdom and experience,” she said. “When you are one of 40 representatives and it’s your way or the highway, you’re not getting very far.”

After speaking about what she has done as borough assembly member, Cooper said she wants to accomplish one more thing: getting a CARES Act grant to pay for a study to expand Homer’s harbor.

“The issues Alaska is facing are complex, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers,” Cooper said. “I’m proud of the relationships I’ve developed over the years. As we tackle these issues, you need a representative that is known for collaborating … You know me. I listen and do the hard work. As your representative, I’ll only have to ask for your vote every two years, but I’ll earn it every day.”

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

Kelly Cooper delivers her “Rally on the Bay” campaign kick-off speech on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph in Kachemak Bay near the Deep Water Dock in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people attended the rally from onshore, in fishing and pleasure boats, and in kayaks. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Kelly Cooper delivers her “Rally on the Bay” campaign kick-off speech on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph in Kachemak Bay near the Deep Water Dock in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people attended the rally from onshore, in fishing and pleasure boats, and in kayaks. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Kelly Cooper delivers her “Rally on the Bay” campaign kick-off speech on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph in Kachemak Bay near the Deep Water Dock in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people attended the rally from onshore, in fishing and pleasure boats, and in kayaks. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Kelly Cooper delivers her “Rally on the Bay” campaign kick-off speech on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph in Kachemak Bay near the Deep Water Dock in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people attended the rally from onshore, in fishing and pleasure boats, and in kayaks. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Melanie Dufour, left, and Bridget Maryott, center, pose for a photo for Dave Aplin, right, at Kelly Cooper’s “Rally on the Bay” campaign kick-off on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Cooper spoke from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph in Kachemak Bay near the Deep Water Dock in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people attended the rally from onshore, in fishing and pleasure boats, and in kayaks. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Melanie Dufour, left, and Bridget Maryott, center, pose for a photo for Dave Aplin, right, at Kelly Cooper’s “Rally on the Bay” campaign kick-off on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Cooper spoke from the stern of the F/V Sea Nymph in Kachemak Bay near the Deep Water Dock in Homer, Alaska. About 50 people attended the rally from onshore, in fishing and pleasure boats, and in kayaks. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

More in News

Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion 
                                The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna is seen here on June 1.
Application period for borough relief funds begins Monday

Borough residents can apply for these grants July 13 through July 24.

Homer Farmers Market: Farmers offer stability in times of uncertainty

In a time of uncertainty, it certainly is nice to know where… Continue reading

Hospital adds new COVID-19 rooms

An increase last month in positive COVID-19 cases on the lower Kenai… Continue reading

Peonies cover a table, ready to receive people at a field to vase dinner tour hosted by Certified American Grown Flowers on Saturday, July 29, 2017 at Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Homer Peony Celebration begins this week

With many large or indoor events canceled this year due to the… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy the CDC)
9 new COVID-19 cases on the Kenai Peninsula

The central Kenai Peninsula saw growth in the number of new COVID-19… Continue reading

The Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers in Soldotna, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly overrides mayoral veto of hybrid election system ordinance

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly voted to override a mayoral… Continue reading

Independence Day parade organized after official event gets canceled

The continued spread of COVID-19 across Alaska prompted many official organizations and… Continue reading

A young volunteer chases three piglets named Mary Hamkins, Petunia and Sir Oinks-a-lot through a race during the pig races at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Kenai Peninsula Fair canceled this year

Cotton candy, carnival rides and racing pigs will have to wait for… Continue reading

Members of the Homer City Council interview candidate Rob Dumouchel for the job of city manager on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 via Zoom in Homer, Alaska. Top row from left to right: Council member Joey Evensen, Mayor Ken Castner, Council member Heath Smith. Middle row from left to right: Council members Donna Aderhold, Rachel Lord and Storm Hansen-Cavasos. Bottom row from left to right: Candidate Rob Dumouchel and Council member Caroline Venuti.
Council offers city manager job to California candidate

The Homer City Council voted last week to offer the job of… Continue reading

Most Read