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On Monday morning, January 8, 2007, Thornton Cooper, a Democrat, was the first person to file his certificate of candidacy for Mayor of South Charleston. He is running for the four-year term that begins on July 1, 2007. Mr. Cooper, 56, is a lawyer with 30 years of experience in state government. He is currently a member of the Kanawha County Democratic Executive Committee.
From 2003 through 2006, Mr. Cooper fought against the $1.00-per-week “user fee” that the Charleston City Council voted to impose on tens of thousands of individuals who work in that municipality. Many of those workers live in South Charleston.
Last year, South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb announced that he would not seek a ninth term. Mayor Robb’s first term began on July 1, 1975. When he finishes his eighth term on June 30, 2007, Mayor Robb will have served 32 years in that position. Shortly after Mayor Robb made his announcement, Mr. Cooper decided to run for Mayor.
South Charleston’s primary election will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2007. The general election will be held on Saturday, June 2, 2007.
EDUCATION AND FAMILY
Mr. Cooper was born and raised in South Charleston. His brothers Tom (now deceased) and John and he attended public schools there. After graduating from South Charleston High School in 1968, he attended Yale University. In 1972 he graduated from Yale with a B. A. in Political Science. Between 1975 and 1978, he attended the West Virginia University College of Law, where he received his law degree (Juris Doctor) in 1978.
His parents were Thomas R. Cooper, Sr., an electrical engineer and draftsman at the Union Carbide Technical Center, and Virginia Watson Cooper, who taught English and Latin at South Charleston Junior High School, Stonewall Jackson High School, and George Washington High School. Thornton Cooper has two (2) sons: Jeremy, 24, who graduated from Charleston Catholic High School and Oberlin College, and now lives and works in Pittsburgh; and Timothy, 20, who graduated from George Washington High School and is attending West Virginia University under a Promise scholarship.
Thornton Cooper worked for 30 years in state government. At the end of 2005, he retired from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia after nearly 25 years at that agency as an attorney and administrator. During much of that time he was involved in the regulation of private companies that collect and transport solid waste in West Virginia. From January to December 2006, Mr. Cooper also worked on a part-time basis for that agency as an independent contractor. During those twelve months, he wrote four instruction manuals.
Prior to working for the Public Service Commission, Mr. Cooper worked for the West Virginia Department of Highways and the West Virginia Human Rights Commission. His first job as a state employee was in 1972 and 1973, when he served as a highway inspector on the I-64 construction project that ran from Valley Drive in South Charleston to Danner Road in Charleston. In 1975, that portion of I-64, which ran through much of his old neighborhood, was opened up to traffic.
In 1975, prior to starting law school, Mr. Cooper also worked for the City of South Charleston as its Human Needs Director and Accounts Adjuster during Mayor Robb’s first few weeks of office.