District leaders are somber about the surprise death of A.J. Cooper, a young political aspirant who was looking to run for the Ward 4 seat on the D.C. Council this spring.
Cooper, the nephew of former D.C. Board of Education President Peggy Cooper Cafritz, was 34 when he died on Dec. 3. It has been reported that he died of a heart attack.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
A native Washingtonian, Cooper was the host of BET’s Teen Summit and served in the Marine Corps. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland and had worked as the policy director for the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
In 2012, he ran for the D.C. Council as an independent. In the past year, he founded Freedom Farms, an initiative to support urban farming by training low-income residents about growing food and agriculture.
Soon after D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) was elected mayor on Nov. 4, Cooper announced his candidacy for her seat. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) said that Cooper “was a positive force and touched the lives of many.”
D.C. Council member-elect Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), whom Cooper supported in the Nov. 4 general election, tweeted that Cooper “was a great progressive ally, activist and friend.” D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) said that Cooper was “a joy to be around.”
“This is another very difficult loss for our city,” Wells said.
D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) talked about Cooper on a more personal basis.
“I lost a friend and the District of Columbia lost a young activist, social entrepreneur, and above all, a public servant,” McDuffie said. “I will always remember A.J. Cooper for his selfless service to his neighborhood, his community, the District of Columbia and our country. I will miss him deeply.”