News Articles

Excerpted from Rancho Cordova Independent
May 29, 2016

Although State Assemblyman Ken Cooley is in his first term at the Sacramento Capitol, he is not inexperienced. Cooley worked straight out of Berkeley for a senior member of the assembly. “He was Rules chairman, I was his top guy,” Cooley said.

Cooley later worked for a state senator drafting legislation, and this was while he was also on the Rancho Cordova City Council. Having worked with Cooley on the city council for years, council member and past mayor Robert McGarvey said, “He’s probably one of the most experienced elected officials there in the Capitol right now.” Therefore, when Ken Cooley began his term he was able to step right into the work.

When Cooley spoke at the May 20th Rancho Cordova Luncheon, rather than focusing on legislation he spoke about three concepts. Persistence in doing good was the first thing. “Good doers, that’s what the community needs, people who just see the need and step out to do good things,” Cooley said. Since Rancho Cordova is a military town, Cooley thought everyone would also relate to the second subject – deployment. “So much of our life, I would say, is deployment of self,” Cooley said. “What am I going to do this day, this week, this month? What are the priorities? What is the place where I can make a difference?”

Third is tyranny of the urgent. You start the day, Cooley said, with an idea of what you need to accomplish, and it doesn’t take long for life to intervene. “There are fires to be put out,” Cooley said. “Somebody calls you up with an urgent personal need. And suddenly there goes the day.” With these three things as a base, Cooley talked about matters on which he has deployed himself during his term.

Cooley went on with a statement from John Stuart Mill who wrote a book on representative government in 1861. “The proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government, to throw the light of publicity on its acts, to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them, which any one considers questionable,” Cooley quoted.

Oversight, Cooley feels, has been greatly diminished in the legislature over the past 20 years. He accepted the position of chair of the Rules committee even though it meant he could not chair a policy committee. “When it comes to oversight functions, take off your party hat . . . I point out to (those who have taken an oath of office) that oversight is a chance for us to start to learn as members to function together and not fight over partisan issues.” Cooley has now put together a guide on oversight. “In collaboration with staff, for the first time in probably 40 or 50 years, the California State Assembly has a Legislative Oversight Handbook,” Cooley said. “I feel like this is an example of being personally persistent in doing good.”

Paul Andersen, a safety professional who came to the luncheon specifically to hear Cooley speak, said that we need people who are responsible and ethical themselves to be on the ethics committee. “I really appreciate that Ken is of the people, for the people, and regardless of his party, I will always support him and follow his lead.” Andersen said

Cooley is the chair of the subcommittee on foster care. He has introduced legislation dealing with the issues of human trafficking, child abuse generally, and child sexual abuse. Lots of kids end up in trafficking out of the foster care system, he said. “I feel part of my responsibility as a member,” Cooley said, “since I’m pretty experienced in legislative work and advocacy, is to be an advocate for people who don’t have an advocate.”

Also at the luncheon, Rancho Cordova State Farm agent Douglas Brewer came to know Cooley when he chaired the government relations committee with the Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce. “If you look at the history of Ken’s political career, you’ll see that he has always reached out to the other side of the aisle,” Brewer said. “Ken does a good job, I think, of being able to bridge those differences.”

In finishing, Cooley, who with his wife Sydney has lived in Rancho Cordova since 1977, thanked the residents of Rancho Cordova. “There’s a great deal of frustration and disappointment frequently at the end of the day, that the things that you meant to do didn’t get done. I just thank you for being persistent in living with that tension.”