Nonprofit leader to run for Olympia City Council

February 26, 2011 

Jim Cooper

Jim Cooper

OLYMPIA - Jim Cooper, past chairman of the Thurston County Democrats, announced Friday that he will run for the Olympia City Council.

Cooper, 36, is the executive director of Together, a nonprofit organization focused on preventing youth substance abuse and violence.

Among his priorities are increasing tourism and jobs, and more balance between development and environmental priorities, he said.

“My goal is for this to be a true grassroots movement of really trying to build more citizen involvement in our process,” he said.

Cooper said he will seek Position No. 7, the seat Steve Langer is vacating. Langer announced he will seek Position No. 2. Councilman Craig Ottavelli holds Position No. 2 but said in January that he won’t seek re-election.

Cooper said he has lived in Thurston County for seven years, including 11/2 years in Olympia. He grew up in Edmonds and spent three years in active duty in the Army and another three years in the Washington National Guard. His background is in hazardous-materials cleanup and nonprofits.

He holds an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Whatcom Community College and attended Colorado State University.

Cooper said his hazardous-materials background aids him in understanding environmental issues. He said he wants to increase public involvement and look for opportunities for the local jurisdictions to work together.

As an example, Cooper suggested the cities could share their waste- and recycling-pickup services. He lives in the South Carlyon neighborhood on Olympia’s east side near the Tumwater border and said he sees duplication in city services.

“Every single day I have a garbage truck, a recycle truck … or a compost truck going through my neighborhood because the cities don’t cooperate and share those services,” he said.

He said he disagrees with the council’s decision to pull funding away from the Human Services Review Council, an interjurisdictional body that provides money to social service providers. The council reduced HSRC funding to $75,000 – $70,000 less than last year. Councilman Stephen Buxbaum said the city needs to develop a more collaborative process in which agencies work together rather than compete for social-service dollars. The city opted to spend $170,000 in one-time money for homelessness prevention.

But Cooper said the HSRC funding already goes toward homelessness prevention, and that social-service providers weren’t consulted before the funding was cut.

Cooper’s announcement is the latest in a string this year.

Mayor Doug Mah announced in January that he won’t run again, and Buxbaum and former KGY Radio host Dick Pust said they’ll seek Mah’s seat.

Cooper said he’s pursuing Position No. 7 because it’s an open seat. But unlike the other races, there will be little more than two years left in the term after the election this November. That’s because Langer was appointed to fill the remainder of the term of former Councilman Joe Hyer, who resigned last year.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com

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