The Green Party has formally named Kirklees councillor Andrew Cooper as its candidate in the 2021 West Yorkshire mayoral election.
And Huddersfield-based Mr Cooper, a well-known and leading figure in the Greens at a national, regional and local level, said it’s time for more positivity in politics.
“Politics should be about people and improving their everyday lives,” he said.
“No-one becomes a Green politician to further a career.
“We are trying to create a safer and better world. Careerism is not a motivation.
“That’s something that people should find reassuring and hopefully inspiring.”
The Greens are the first national party to announce a candidate in West Yorkshire.
The duo launched their bid in the Tong and Fulneck Valley between Leeds and Bradford where Bradford Council is planning to spend £64m from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to build a link road through one of the last areas of green belt between the two cities.
Mr Cooper, who leads the Green Group on Kirklees Council and represents Newsome ward, will campaign for the mayoralty in partnership with Hawarun Hussain, an ex-councillor in Bradford and former Deputy Lord Mayor in the city.
She came second behind Mr Cooper in the vote by Green members across Yorkshire and the Humber, polling 42%. Mr Cooper won with 58%.
A third candidate, Lyn Morton, was knocked out in the first stage of the ballot.
Married father-of-two Mr Cooper, 55, declared he had a good chance of winning in West Yorkshire if recent trends persisted and voters chose to go against traditional voting patterns.
He said: “People are looking for positive things at the moment in politics that don’t have the baggage of Government and all the mess of Brexit, coronavirus and internal division.
“The Green Party is well-placed to show a positive vision and to get our message across.
“We want to get good jobs for people that are positive and skilled and linked to a better environment and better homes, and particularly for people on low incomes.
“Linking that with the climate change agenda is a really positive vision. That’s a strong platform for any candidate.”
A veteran campaigner, he said he is looking forward to meeting people on their doorsteps across the county and to building on the Greens’ existing base.
He added: “We already have councillors in Kirklees, Bradford and Leeds.
“We’ve got strong votes in parts of Calderdale and Wakefield. So we are well-placed to get our message across.
“We have seen around the country – in places like Bristol, Bedford and Hartlepool – that mayors are not from the traditional major parties.
“So there is a precedent of people using mayoral elections as a free vote – to vote outside their normal party preferences.”
Mr Cooper has also broken with tradition by naming Ms Hussain as his running mate as he prepares for seven-and-a-half months of campaigning.
If he wins she will become his deputy.
“What normally happens with metro mayors is that they appoint some party worthy to the post after the election. That all feels very undemocratic.
“We made the decision that our nominee for deputy mayor would be open, so that people would know who that would be if they voted Green.
“That has not been the way with the other parties in the past.
“An example of that is the Police and Crime Commissioner where the Deputy PCC is picked by him in a very undemocratic fashion.”
Looking ahead to May 2021 – and the day that has been dubbed “Super Thursday” – Mr Cooper sees hope in a day of voting when the country will go to the polls for district, county, metropolitan councils, and police and crime commissioners as well as the mayoral elections in London and West Yorkshire.
He commented: “It will be the first vote following the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a horrendous time for a lot of people.
“It could be an election where we re-set people’s attitudes.”
A councillor in Kirklees for 21 years, Mr Cooper joined the Green Party in 1988.
After graduating in international relations and politics, he worked in the renewable energy sector for 20 years.
He has twice stood for the party’s deputy leadership and is the Greens’ national energy spokesperson.
Hawarun Hussain said: “Climate change is on the public agenda like never before. Last year, it was reported that a majority of the public now recognise the climate crisis as an ’emergency’ and say politicians from the mainstream parties are failing to tackle the problem.
“Andrew and I will show that that the Green Party offers a genuine alternative to the same old politics of the other parties.”