KINGMAN - Erin Cochran admits that she's not the kind of City Council candidate most Kingmanites are used to seeing. But that, she says, is the entire point of her campaign.
"I'm 27, and I realize people are going to be like, 'She's 27,'" Cochran said. "But people need to realize that, 50 years from now, I'm still going to be here."
A native of Lake Tahoe, Nev., Cochran moved to the Kingman area seven years ago and quickly fell in love with the town, particularly its historic downtown commercial district. Since moving here, she said, she's been constantly engaged in attempts to better the community, whether through fundraising for local non-profit groups or through her service on the Clean City Commission, which she joined in April.
"Everything I do is community related," she said. "I have been the sponsorship coordinator for the Northern Arizona Youth Soccer League for four years - both my husband and I coach. ... The way I look at it is, I want to make this a place that, when my kids go to college, they're going to want to come back here to raise their families."
Cochran said joining the City Council is just one more way of doing that. It's all part of her ambitious 10-year plan, of which she is currently in year four.
"I wanted to graduate from MCC - check. And then I want to run for City Council and hopefully win, to give both the town and myself the chance for a young, fresh perspective," she said. "Hopefully, after two terms, if I can make it, I want to be the mayor."
It may sound far-reaching, but a Council seat wouldn't be the first elective office Cochran has held. She served as Mohave Community College's student body president from 2006 to 2008 before graduating with an associate's degree in elementary education. Currently an account manager for Diamond Janitorial Supply, Cochran is attending the local Northern Arizona University campus in hopes of earning her bachelor's degree, after which she hopes to begin a career teaching middle school science in Kingman.
Cochran filed a $500 threshold statement to launch her campaign, meaning she can only raise or spend a maximum $500 before having to file an official statement of organization. That said, her opponents would be wise not to underestimate her fundraising ability. While serving as the vice president of MCC's science club, Cochran was able to raise more than $1,900 to purchase a chimpanzee skeleton for the school's biology department.
"My forte is fundraising, so I can always raise some funds," she said. "I have a great support base."
One of Cochran's biggest policy concerns is encouraging positive growth and attracting worthwhile new businesses to town. Having spoken with many people her own age, she noted that many feel there isn't enough to do in Kingman.
"That's what I'm hearing, 'We don't have a book store, we don't have a pool hall.' There are lots of extracurricular-type things that people want to come in," she said. "We have enough pharmacies, we have enough check-cashing places. I want to see something that'll be useful come in."
Cochran is also a proponent of the newly created Economic Development and Marketing Commission proposed by Councilwoman Carole Young. "If we can find a way to fund it, there's no reason not to; it can only bring good to the community," she said. "People say all day long they want to see more stuff here, more business here, more events. Well, here's a way."
Cochran said she would love to see downtown Kingman revitalized, but she agreed with former Councilman Tom Spear's notion that any such initiative should require a comprehensive plan before any kind of funding is put into place. She added that downtown merchants should be responsible for any such plan, since they're the ones who would ultimately receive the bulk of the benefits.
"They have the most to gain or lose, and we can't just designate money without knowing what to do with it," she said. "You have to have a plan first and then figure out how to make that happen. Once we come up with a plan, that's something we'd have to take up as a Council and figure out where to get the money from - hopefully not the taxpayers."
While she's only been in the electoral mix for a short time, Cochran said she's been pleasantly surprised by the reaction she's received from the community. "I was expecting the 'Oh sweetie, talk to me in 10 years' reaction, and instead I've gotten a very warm reception from people," she said. "I've had people calling my office that I've never met that know people I know, just to tell me 'congratulations,' and that if I need help, they're there."
In the following weeks, Cochran hopes to gain more exposure on local radio stations with question-and-answer sessions. She also plans to set up a booth in Centennial Park during the next Northern Arizona Youth Soccer League game on Oct. 10.
For more information about Cochran, call (928) 279-8367 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.