Cooper to leave Assembly, announces bid for Sacramento County Sheriff

Assemblymember Jim Cooper (second left) is joined by Elk Grove City Councilmembers (left to
right) Stephanie Nguyen, Darren Suen, and Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen at his
announcement he is running for Sacramento County Sheriff. | 

This morning California State Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) announced his candidacy for Sacramento County Sheriff. Cooper, who served on the Elk Grove City Council for 14 years and was the city's first mayor, represents the 9th Assembly District.

Cooper, who introduced his politically diverse coalition of elected officials, emphasized his main campaign issue - homelessness. The problem, he said, affects the quality of life for the entire county. 

"The number one issue right now is homelessness," Cooper said. "Homelessness is not a crime, we spend over $12 billion of homelessness, and it's gotten worse.
Acknowledging the need to shelter the homeless, Cooper also said the mental health illness needs to be addressed. As sheriff, Cooper said he would work with other elected officials to address the problem of the lack of community and social services in underserved areas of the county.

Answering a question on conservatorship laws as it relates to homelessness, Cooper said he is willing to explore changes noting mental health services need better funding, and the county jails should not be the default facility for addressing the issues. 

"I've tried for years and years to talk about conservatorship at the capitol," he said. "I'm optimistic the governor is going approach that and do something with that, but what we have been doing hasn't worked."

Cooper also addressed questions on relations with the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and his race against Jim Barnes, whom outgoing Sheriff Scott Jones supports. He did not address Barnes' candidacy directly but indicated that the leadership at the sheriff's department, of which Barnes is part, does not have good community relationships or partnerships.  

"Right now, the sheriff's department doesn't have good relationships," he stated. "You can't work that way, you can't do things by yourself."

With Cooper's announcement, which was revealed yesterday, other candidates most notably Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen are expected to announce their candidacy for the open 10th Assembly District seat, which now includes Elk Grove. When Nguyen announces her Assembly candidacy, former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis is expected to announce his candidacy for Elk Grove's 4th  district which Nguyen currently holds.   

Among the elected official on hand to support Cooper were Sacramento County District Attorney and California Attorney General candidate Ann Marie Schubert; Sacramento County Supervisors Rich Desmond and Patrick Kennedy; Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and City Councilmembers Darren Suen and Stephanie Nguyen; Rancho Cordova Mayor Donald Terry and City Councilmember Garrett Gatewood; and Citrus Heights Mayor Porsche Middelton. 

Cooper, a long-time crime victims advocate, has received the support of the Crime Survivors Resources Center, Crime Victims United, and the Polly Klaas Foundation.  

The fourth-term Assemblymember who retired from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department after 30 years in 2014 and upon his election to the Assembly also acknowledged the job's difficulty versus serving in the Assembly. 

"The legislature is much easier than sheriff," Cooper noted. 

The entire press conference can be viewed below.

If elected, Cooper would be the county's first Black Sheriff. Additionally, according to California State Librarian Alex Vasser, Cooper would be only the fifth person in state history to be elected sheriff after serving in the State Assembly (see below).

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