As of Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Besides incumbent David Taylor, there is another familiar face running for the 15th Legislative District No. 2 seat, A.J. Cooper, who challenged Taylor last year.
That race wasn’t close, but this is a different year. One can only guess what the voters will do. And there are two other candidates who could complicate the primary election on Tuesday, August 7.
“I have been officially involved in the Democratic Party for two years,” Cooper said in an interview. “I have been unofficially involved in politics since I was 18 years old, when I finally started to figure out who I was as a person. I spent a lot of time outside of the White House and Capitol Building standing up for what I believe.”
Cooper was born in Northern Virginia and lived her childhood in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. She has lived all over the U.S. She has lived in Selah the last six years with her husband and children in a small 1910 farm house.
“We have spent the past six years remodeling and landscaping our property, Cooper said. “It is so nice to be able to call the Yakima Valley my home. I was never very comfortable growing up in a suburban setting.”
Cooper received a bachelor’s of science in Mathematics and a minor in Education at Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) in Shepherdstown, WV.
She worked Grafton Integrated Health Network with students and adults with autism and mental health issues after graduating from college. She home-schooled a student with Cystic Fibrosis in Jackson, WY before becoming a high school Mathematics teacher. She taught geometry and trigonometry for five years at King George High School in King George, VA.
“I became involved in politics because I was tired of watching oppressive legislation pass against women and other marginalized communities, tired of watching politicians serve the interests of their donors instead of the people and tired of watching politicians using personal beliefs to dictate legislation for all,” Cooper said. “As a candidate I promise to look at the whole story, use trustworthy science, and testimonials from all communities. My narrative will not change depending on my audience. I will speak the truth to the best of my ability.”
“I will not rest until the oppressive barriers and stigmatisms that keep certain communities and groups from thriving are removed,” Cooper added. “For example, one who cannot meet their basic needs are lazy or poor. Do not let your pay stub dictate the richness of your life, and there are a lot of hard working people who are struggling to meet their basic needs. I believe my job as candidate is to listen to the community from every perspective and to take the cultural and spiritual diversity of the Yakima Valley into consideration.”
If elected, Cooper indicated she wants to see a cultural shift in education. She intimated a quality education would involve a blend of cultures.
“Some of the students in Yakima Valley attend schools where their culture and history are missing from the curriculum,” she said. “We have families moving from one school district to another because their student’s needs do not fit the status quo.”
“I would like to work with teachers, parents and students to create a curriculum that works for all,” she added. “A quality education includes quality teachers. How do we keep qualified teachers in the Yakima Valley? Fair wages, respect, and more support staff (librarians, therapists, and case managers).”
Another issue that gets Cooper’s attention is water quality.
“The valley has been waiting six years for a plan to monitor wells for contamination,” she said. “The plan is supposed to be released soon, and we can all hope it is a robust plan that will incorporate ideas for conservation and clean-up of our shallow aquifers. We are the stewards of our planet. It is our job to protect the air, water, and earth to best of our ability.”
Public Safety is a concern. The valley is suffering as many other areas are suffering from the shortage of affordable housing. Our homeless population is growing. Mental issues are usually to blame, but each one has their own story how they ended up in their situation. Housing is priority number one. As a ski patroller we learn the rule of threes. You have 3 hours to find shelter, 3 days to find water, and 3 weeks to find food. Housing must support job training, mental health support, and substance abuse therapy. People need a purpose to get up in the morning, and when one can house, feed, and clothe oneself and contribute to one’s community life has purpose.