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Cooper: It's Been a Tremendous Ride

Longtime Suffolk County legislator honored at farewell event Wednesday.

Chairing his first economic development meeting twelve years ago, was an uncomfortable public speaker who sometimes had to be reminded to second a motion or table a bill, according to his own admission.

That certainly wasn't the case Wednesday night.

In a speech that brought tears to some, the now polished six-term lawmaker eloquently said farewell and thank you to a large group at a send-off party given in his honor.

Calling his term-limited run 12 of the most exciting and fulfilling years of his life, Cooper thanked supporters, friends, family, colleagues and legislative aids, while describing last week's transition from office as "sort of tough."

He said his strange feeling was an indication of how much he enjoyed serving.

"It seems like just yesterday that I was sworn in," recalled Cooper. "But at the same time, I literally cannot remember not being a Suffolk County legislator."

The Duke graduate reflected on his legislative tenure as a "great life experience" which he said passed quickly — but not without accomplishment.

His biggest victory in office came in his 2003, he said. In a 10-month fight to ban ephedra, the Cooper-initiated move eventually spread from a county law to federal legislation signed by the Pres. George W. Bush.

"It started right here in Suffolk County," Cooper said proudly in Centerport. "Potentially, thousands of lives were saved by that ban," Cooper said recently to Patch.

Days before leaving behind a legislatutive body which he says works together for the most part, Cooper hinted that his fight for poitical cohesion has paid off. 

In a show of the Suffolk County biartisanship he has helped to create as the six-year majority leader, representatives from both sides of the isle turned out to honor their former colleague Wednesday.

Those on hand included current county Majority Leader Duwayne Gregory, Tom Muratore, R-Ronkonkoma, and Bill Lindsey, the Suffolk County Legislature's presiding officer.

"From my perspective he was the best majority leader there ever was," said Lindsey, regarding Cooper.

At the event, the former lawmaker introduced his father, William Cooper, the chairman and CEO of Spectronics Corporation, the Cooper family business based in Westbury.

"He's probably one of the only residents in the 18th district that is thrilled that I'm not in office because I get to work with him full-time," joked Cooper, the Spectronics president.

With more time on his hands, the Lloyd Harbor Democrat said he will serve on the Board of Directors of LISTnet, the Family Service League and the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center.

Cooper said he will also be actively involved in Pres. Obama's re-election campaign.

After losing his first attempt at office to longtime district incumbent Steve Hackeling 14 years ago, Cooper was elected by larger margins each election throughout his tenure, a sign of his political popularity and accomplishment.

Elected to office in a close 51 to 49 percent vote 12 years ago, Cooper was honored by his 18th District predecessor Dr. William Spencer, who won in a close race in November to begin his first term. 

"I think that if I can just continue to follow his example then I'll be fine," said Spencer Wednesday.

In a sit-down with Patch just days before leaving office, Cooper said he was disappointed that he couldn't do more to bring additional law enforcement resources to Huntington Station. Part of the reason, he explained, was the frustration he had in working with former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. 

"That prevented us from accomplishing some things," said Cooper.

Newly-elected Suffolk County Commissioner Steve Bellone will embrace new ideas regarding crime, according to Cooper. "Bellone agrees that we need more cops on the street," he said to Patch.

Cooper, who once took more than a year off after college to backpack throughout the world, said he's ready to move on after an enjoyable political run in the legislature.

"It's been a tremendous ride," said Cooper Wednesday. "I'm looking forward with great anticipation to the next chapter and I hoping it will be as exciting and rewarding as the first chapter was."

Cooper has not ruled out another run at politics.

Kyle January 20, 2012 at 04:12 PM
As defined by Wikipedia, "Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power... the 'imbalance of power' may be social power and/or physical power..." Since there was no habitual behavior nor social/physical (obviously!) imbalance of power, this was clearly not bullying. As someone who claims to have been a victim of bullying, I find it surprising that you would throw around this term so loosely. It's downright insulting to people who have been bullied.
Jon Cooper January 20, 2012 at 04:29 PM
David, thank you for your respectful reply. We need more civility in politics these days. As you say, we'll probably have to agree to disagree on this one issue. I strongly agree with Kyle that the term "bullying" should not be thrown around loosely. I also agree with Babaloo that "Marcelino has been around the block a few times and he can take care of himself." In any case, I'm glad we had this chance to chat and I hope you have a great weekend!
Hillary Hess January 20, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Frankly, I don't see how saying that he was going to run against him was bullying. He didn't say that he was going after him personally or his family. A tantrum? really? So if I call my representative and tell him to vote for an issue that means a lot to me, and tell him that if he doesn't, I will not vote for him in the future, is that a tantrum too? is that what we are supposed to do? If I decide that the issue in question is so important to me that I consider running against him in the next election (allowing the people to make their choice) is that also a tantrum? I am sure that Jon brought a lot of attention to Mr. Marcellino, and I am sure he got phone calls from both republicans and democrats as a result. I know that I picked up the phone and called his office, and let my feeling be known. Isn't that just allowing the public to make a choice? As far as saying he would use his resources to win, well who doesn't during an election campaign? Are you going to say that the Republicans that are vying to go up against Obama are not using all of their available resources to get the nomination? Of course they are all spending millions. That is the way it goes. As far as bullying is concerned, I am offended at how you manipulated a belittled this term. More...
Hillary Hess January 20, 2012 at 04:56 PM
As a parent who saw my child attempt suicide because of real bullying, I really am offended by your manipulation of this term. One of her bullies is now in prison for rape. Her school didn't do anything to protect her, and when his father was told, his father threatened me and my daughter because we were "liars". Bullies beget bullies. I told him that I would bring the matter to the police and make sure that his child be placed on the sexual offender list. When the police were brought in, they blew it off and told my daughter that she would be put through the ringer. We backed down because she was too scared. Now I live with the fact that at least one other young woman had to suffer because nobody took my kid seriously. She was victimized by the offender, the school, his father and the police because boys will be boys. That is real bullying: How dare you!
2 Turn Tables January 20, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Well Hillary, we agree to disagree. We can kick this around all day, and quite frankly, to pick apart the definition of bullying bores me to tears. I stand by my opinion. Wikipedia is not the only game in town to get a definition. Here it is, and I am done with this: Source: The Free Dictionary by Farlex: "To force one's way aggressively or by intimidation" Bullying can take the shape off all forms and mediums. Don't be offended, and don't think I am manipulating anything. It is what it is. Enjoy the weekend everyone! It's gonna snow!

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