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Cooper enters Duluth's mayoral race

Thomas Cooper, 68, a retired motel manager, became the sixth person to jump into Duluth's mayoral race when he filed as a candidate Thursday. This will be Cooper's second mayoral bid but his first in Duluth. About 20 years ago, he unsuccessfully ...

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Thomas Cooper

Thomas Cooper, 68, a retired motel manager, became the sixth person to jump into Duluth's mayoral race when he filed as a candidate Thursday.

This will be Cooper's second mayoral bid but his first in Duluth. About 20 years ago, he unsuccessfully ran to be named mayor of Proctor.

Cooper, who is disabled, calls Gateway Tower home.

"Just seeing how the handicapped, the elderly and renters in this city are treated made me want to run," he said.

Cooper said he would bring a unique perspective to office because he knows what it's like to navigate the city in a motorized chair without shock absorbers.

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"During the wintertime, it's almost impossible to get around for us, because the plows come by and they clean the sidewalks, but they don't clean the corners. So we have to go about a half a block down and make a run for it to see if we can make it through. I have a couple of people here in our building who haven't made it through, and they end up flat on their faces," he said.

Cooper pledged to devote more resources to snow removal, saying: "This shouldn't be the way our citizens are treated."

Cooper described his concern about the rough state of Duluth's roads and sidewalks as a primary motivation for his candidacy.

"I was just getting tired of bouncing around on the bricks and not being able to get anywhere in the wintertime," he said.

Cooper said he also believes his background in accounting would serve him well in reviewing the city's accounts.

"If we go through the books, I'm sure there's money that could be saved," he said.

Cooper sees opportunities to accelerate economic development in Duluth.

"I think we're starting to grow the way we could be be growing, but some changes could still be made to help us grow a little faster," he said.

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Cooper said the city has the potential to boost tourism by creating more attractions for visitors of all ages.

"We need to open the city up a little more so people can come in and spend their money here," he said.

Even if Cooper falls short in his mayoral bid, he hopes his candidacy will raise awareness of some long-neglected issues.

"I'd love to be mayor, but if I don't make it, that would be fine, too. Maybe I can at least rattle some cages during this whole process and get some things done anyway," he said.

The other five candidates who have filed for mayor so far are: Howie Hanson, Chuck Horton, Emily Larson, James Mattson and John Socha.

Incumbent Mayor Don Ness earlier announced he will not seek a third term in office.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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