Foe promises Upton ‘all the debates he can handle’
Don Cooney, a Kalamazoo city commissioner and former priest, hopes to unseat 21-year GOP congressman
By DAVID WARFIELD, Herald Palladium Staff Writer
BENTON HARBOR — Kalamazoo City Commissioner Don Cooney vowed Wednesday to give Fred Upton all the debates he can handle in a race for the U.S. House seat the St. Joseph Republican has held since 1987.
Cooney, a social work professor and former Catholic priest, formally announced his candidacy for the 6th District House seat in a meeting with Berrien County Democrats at the Benton Harbor Public Library.
“This campaign is about bread-and-butter issues, basic human issues,” said Cooney, who teaches at Western Michigan University. “... We have to end this war, we have to change this economy, provide universal health care and a decent environment to our children.”
Cooney spoke repeatedly about the need for “a living wage” to bring people out of poverty.
“We need to get back to what this country is about: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” he said. “... Martin Luther King said, without good jobs that give people living wages, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is an illusion.”
Cooney said he would end tax breaks to wealthy Americans as a way to reduce federal budget deficits and lower the national debt.
U.S. House hopeful Don Cooney talks to those gathered for his formal campaign launch Wednesday in Benton Harbor. The Kalamazoo city commissioner and Democrat wants to unseat St. Joseph Republican Fred Upton.
“Fred Upton has identified himself with (the Bush) administration time and time again.”
He said he would challenge Upton on his support of the Iraq war and what he called “an economic policy where 5 million people have fallen into poverty and 8 million more people are without health care than before.
“We hope to engage Fred Upton in a number of debates. As many as he can handle. We look forward to that.”
Cooney, 71, is in his sixth term as a Kalamazoo city commissioner. He has taught 31 years at Western, and has served as a priest in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Philadelphia.
He and his wife, Kathy, have one son, who is grown.
Michigan’s 6th Congressional District covers all of Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties, most of southern and eastern Allegan County and a part of western Calhoun County.
Cooney and Upton are unopposed in their Aug. 5 primaries. The general election is Nov. 4.