FRESNO, California (KSEE) — A political newcomer is promising to bring change to California’s 16th congressional district, trying to unseat a longtime incumbent.
Kevin Cookingham is the Republican challenger going up against Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno. While he hasn’t held any office before, he said he plans to hit the ground running to bring results to the Central Valley.
Numerous times in our interview with Cookingham, he said he’s all about results. It’s why he makes this bold claim, “If you don’t see big results in the first two years [I’m elected], vote me out.
He adds, “But, you will see results because I don’t sleep at night unless I see results.”
Cookingham’s experience largely comes from education. He was an administrator with the Clovis Adult School, as well as the Clovis Online School.
He said there’s two issues he plans to hit the ground running on if he gets elected, things he said he “wouldn’t need Congress for” to start working on.
The first is addressing the area’s unemployment. Pulling from his experience with Clovis Unified School District, his strategy is to take advantage of what’s already here.
“Just our them in touch with the right opportunities, like the right career tech education programs,” Cookingham said. “In electrical, plumbing, whatever it may be.”
The second issue is cleaning up the trash in the area. Cookingham recognizes part of it is tackling homelessness, so he plans to support nonprofits that focus on drug, alcohol, and mental health issues.
“One of the things that they teach us in education is if you see something that’s trash, pick it up,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re an administrator, nobody’s above picking up trash, right?”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cookingham hit the campaign trail hard all over the district, knowing a huge obstacle to winning against Costa is name recognition.
Now in the middle of the pandemic, he’s been hard at work fostering the relationships he made to get the votes.
“I thought, I can either retire and sit back, hang out, or I can really try and make a difference in what’s going on in this nation,” Cookingham said.