Kelly Cooper looks ahead to next term, service after assembly

Homer’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Kelly Cooper will have smooth sailing into her next term, as she’s running unopposed to keep her seat.

Cooper, a resident of Alaska for 15 years, fills the assembly seat for District 8 and represents Homer. The owner of Glacier View Cabins and Coop’s Coffee has served on the assembly since 2014 and as assembly president since 2016.

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.

The biggest issue Cooper sees the assembly dealing with during her upcoming 3-year term is the budget.

“Our priorities will be to continue to look for revenue,” she said. “The misconception during this election cycle has been that we are spending more, which causes us to need more revenue, and the opposite is true. With the cost shifting from the state, we’ve lost revenue there. We continue to have an increasing growth of seniors which, I love seniors, but that’s less property taxes because that exemption that we tried to do on the stepped program failed.”

Cooper said the borough has kept the budget spending down in terms of administration costs. She sees Proposition 3, the proposition raising the sales tax cap, on the Oct. 3 election ballot as a reasonable request to make of borough residents to help offset the borough’s fiscal decline. Part of working on the budget, Cooper said, will include working closer and earlier with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District on the portion that is designated for education — about two thirds.

Going forward, Cooper said she’ll continue to work to protect the borough’s ordinance regarding anadromous streams, which she said is met with efforts nearly every year to have certain areas removed from it.

“The anadromous streams, if there’s something wrong with one of those, we can amend and have it removed from the map,” she said. “You don’t have to throw the whole baby out with the bath water.”

She also wants to get rid of the borough’s invocation policy, which has proved controversial over the last year and is the subject of a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. Cooper described the current policy’s stipulation that those giving invocations be part of a group with an established presence on the peninsula as “a huge barrier,” and would be more in favor of a moment of silence or a policy that is all-inclusive.

“Those are the only two options I’m OK with,” she said. “… If it’s important to all of our constituents that we maintain that invocation, then it has to be open to everyone.”

Cooper said she hopes that with the new incoming assembly members, they’ll have the votes to replace the invocation.

This is Cooper’s last term in office before she is termed out. She said she’s not sure what her public service will look like following this term, but that she’ll definitely be staying involved.

“A lot of people do gardening and flowers and cooking and quilting for hobbies,” she said. “My hobby’s politics. I love politics. So, no, I won’t be done. I would continue my service somewhere, somehow. … It’s where I’m needed.”

Cooper hasn’t ruled out trying to head to the Alaska House of Representatives in Juneau, though she said she won’t run for office as long as Rep. Paul Seaton is still serving.

“I am so supportive of Paul Seaton, so I would never have considered that as long as he was running because I really, really like the work that he does,” she said.

“For me it’s just a matter of being open to all of our constituents, being reasonable, not being so tied to our party lines that we cut our nose off to spite our face, and having our assembly be functional,” she said. “You know, when we’re unbalanced, we’re not functional. We just aren’t.”

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@homernews.com.

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Thunder Mountain High School on April 18.  Earlier this fall, vandalism including stolen soap dispensers and toilets clogged with foreign objects such as paper towel rolls were a problem at schools nationwide and in Juneau. But, principals say the local situation is improving. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
After brief surge, vandalism subsiding at local high schools

Principals say internet trends, stress likely behind incidents.

In this Jan. 8, 2020, photo Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, heads to a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington. An Alaska man faces federal charges after authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill Murkowski, according to court documents unsealed Wed., Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)
Delta Junction man faces charges over threatening Murkowski’s life

Authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill the senator.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

Runners participate in boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. The trails recently reported incidents of vandalism and theft. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Vandalism and theft reported at Tsalteshi Trails

One trail user reported stolen skis recently and multiple signs have been defaced.

At left Bonita Banks, RN, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) nurse at Homer Medical Center, and at right, Annie Garay, RN, Community Health Educator, pose for a photo at South Peninsula Hospital on Sept. 27, 2021, at Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
New hospital community health educator starts

Garay, a Homer raised nurse, came home to ride out COVID-19, wound up doing pandemic nursing.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Montessori school goes to universal indoor masking

As of Tuesday, eight KPBSD schools were operating with universal indoor masking for staff and students.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Judge sides with psychiatrists who alleged wrongful firing

Two psychiatrists said they were wrongfully fired when Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy took office.

Most Read