Nathan J. Cooper Running For Boston City Council

J.P. Goodwin

Nathan Cooper, a second shift Report Center supervisor at UMass Boston, hasn’t had much free time lately. When he’s not making sure things get fixed at UMB from 3 to 11pm, he’s running hard to succeed Maureen Feeney as the representative from District 3 in the Boston City Council.

Cooper – who is the first African-American candidate to seek the District 3 seat since its creation in 1983 – says he’s talked with people around the district, and “One of several problems they have is constituent services. They feel that their needs are not being met and if they are being met, it’s not being spread out equally.”

Described by the Dorchester Reporter as a “long-shot candidate” and “city hall outsider,” Cooper is confident that if he can get his message out to the voters, he can knock off a third term incumbent. “I never do anything unless I’m serious,” he declared.

His message is clear and straightforward. Cooper tells voters, “I have heard your call for fair and equal treatment for all. I have heard your pleas for services that will meet the needs of the community. You are important because you are the City of Boston and you have the right to have your needs met.”

A self-described “community activist for 25 years,” Cooper has worked at UMB since 1990 and lived in Dorchester for the past 16 years with his wife Jacgueline, son Carl, 21, and daughter Marissa, 15. He’s co-chair of the Codman Square/Four Corners Millennium Project, chair of the East and West Diversity Group, a member of the Black and Jewish Economic roundtable, a former president of the Codman Square Neighborhood Council (1997), and a former BNN TV reporter. In 1992 he received the ABCD Community Award and in 1999 he graduated from the Massachusetts Legislative Citizen Seminar Program. He also hosts a radio talk show on WRBB FM 104.9.

“I think City Hall can be a little more accessible and friendly to residents,” states Cooper. “Over the years, I’ve been told to make calls to the City, only to have them bounced around. It’s frustrating not to have any of those calls returned.”

Last year, Cooper led an effort by residents of Codman Square to stop the City of Boston Hackney Division from relocating its operations to a residential section of that neighborhood, where it would bring heavy traffic and air pollution. While this effort put him at odds with the Mayor’s office, he did win Mayor Thomas Menino’s praise for his role in the Codman Square Millennium Project, which produced an initiative giving a detailed outline of that area’s “wants and needs for the coming years.” He’s won community praise for his work on voter education forums and the Main Streets Program and development.

Dorchester’s District 3, which includes Harbor Point, parts of Columbia Road, River street in Lower Mills, Bowdoin Street, and Codman Square, in many way resembles UMass Boston in its diversity. The district has significant African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American and white ethnic populations.

Cooper’s goal is to break from a pack of six candidates and take one of the top two spots in the September 25 primary. And then on to victory on November 6.