Kelly Cooper. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Cooper)

Kelly Cooper. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Cooper)

Candidate Point of View: Kelly Cooper

Dear Alaskans of District 31,

I’m writing to ask for your vote on Nov. 3. You may know my voice from listening in to Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meetings, or we may have met when I’m at Coop’s Coffee giving the baristas a hand. I have served Homer for six years on the Borough Assembly and want to serve you as District 31’s Representative in the State Legislature.

As Alaskans we’ve faced some difficult years and we have hard choices ahead of us. In 2019, when budget cuts threatened our Alaska way of life, Alaskans spoke out. People from all over the state said they wanted to preserve Troopers, keep ferries running, have safe roads in the winter, maintain senior benefits and fully fund education.

Even as Alaskans set aside their differences to work to save our state, we watched partisanship tear apart the Legislature. Your elected officials couldn’t even agree on where to meet, much less how to balance the budget. We need legislators who will work together to find solutions, not pick sides and refuse to compromise.

This year’s budget had its own share of problems. Our fishing communities have asked the state to manage the resource through science which is funded by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Instead, fisheries are managed conservatively with limited data. This means less fish for fishermen and less money into Alaska’s economy. Legislators also cut $2.6 million in school bond debt reimbursement from the state to the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Our borough covered this cost out of our savings rather than raise your property taxes. Make no mistake though, this is a case of the state passing the buck to you, the local taxpayer.

Politics is one of those things that, when it works right, nobody notices. Teachers get paid, roads get plowed, and you get your Permanent Fund Dividend. And when it doesn’t work? Even though politics can completely change our lives, the average Alaskan feels like they can do very little to fix things. I want to serve you because I love solving those problems. I work hard so that teachers can keep teaching, you can get to work safely and we continue to share this state’s oil wealth with its people.

I’m proud of my record on the KPB Assembly, where I’ve protected core services while keeping downward pressure on the budget. Here are just a few examples.

• Education has always been my priority and I’ve supported appropriate funding for the school district every year. Our schools throughout the borough are the heartbeat of each community, and our kids deserve great teachers and appropriate class sizes.

• I’ve supported the initiative to exempt sales tax on nonprepared food because you shouldn’t have to pay sales tax when feeding your family.

• We partnered with the City of Homer and Kachemak City to intervene in a proposed tariff that would have significantly raised natural gas rates for homeowners and business for 30 years or more.

• I dove into the fine print of the CARES Act to find funding that could advance the Homer Port and Harbor Expansion.

• When city businesses that pay borough sales tax were prohibited from applying for borough CARES Act funds, I made sure cities got their fair share.

As an Independent, I know we can move Alaska forward if we work together. I believe in putting people before party. My experience has taught me that every person’s perspective matters. We may not agree on everything, but I will always listen and I will always pick up the phone. If you want to learn more please visit www.votekellycooper.com or call me at 299-1519.

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