Fierce defender of Valdez passes the gavel
Mayor Dave Cobb spent 22 years fighting for Valdez issues
City government said goodbye to one of its staunchest supporters Monday night when Mayor Dave Cobb passed the gavel to the newly elected mayor, Larry Weaver.
"My official last duty will be to take a break," Cobb joked Monday night after Weaver was sworn in to office at the beginning of his last council meeting.
Cobb, along with his wife Jean, were slated to hit the road Tuesday morning as part of the couple's retirement plans, which sadly for Valdez, includes moving to Gig Harbor, Wash.
It's where the couple lived over thirty years ago, before they came to Valdez and began decades of service to the community.
Cobb was first elected to the city council in 1993, and was later elected mayor for two terms, from 1996 – 2000; he then served on the Planning and Zoning Commissioner from 2000 – 2002 before he was again elected to council for four terms, then again serving as mayor from 2010-2014.
Over the years, Cobb's style in elected office alternated between the casual and dead serious, but always with an eye towards the betterment of the community, sometimes showing a hint of temper.
Cobb became a legend in journalistic circles back in 2006 when testifying in a public hearing held by the state to solicit testimony regarding then Gov. Frank Murkowski's plan to develop the state's natural gas by supporting a natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48 through Canada, which included tax concessions he felt were less than favorable to Alaskans.
He said - on the record - that back in the old days, if Murkowski had come to town with such a poor plan, he'd have been taken out to the parking lot, tarred and feathered, and "...we'd kick your ass."
It made for great copy, but Cobb was sincere in the bold statement, after having worked for decades on plans to develop the state's natural gas, including over 10 years on the Alaska Gasline Port Authority.
He was also one of the three community leaders, including Bill Wyatt and Bill Walker, who hatched a scheme to attract tourists to Valdez by handing out coupons at the Canadian border for a free frozen salmon, redeemable only in Valdez.
As the business manager of the Valdez Fisheries Development Association, he was in a unique position to promote both the fishing and tourist industries at the same time.
Valdez Star photo
Dave Cobb signed his final official document as mayor Monday night after passing the gavel on to Larry Weaver.
In a proclamation passed by the city council two weeks ago, Mike Wells, the mayor pro tem - who also worked at VFDA for many years - cited many of Cobb's accomplishments, including this statement about events Cobb helped establish, including "...the Pink Salmon Festival, 4th of July Celebration and many public events featuring the famous "fish fry" and barbecues are the result of Mayor Cobb's invention and participation; wearing his apron and wielding a spatula, he is known in the community as "Barbecue Chef Extraordinaire..."
He also served on the Alaska Municipal League Board of Directors, Alaska Mayors Association, National League of Cities, and the Valdez Elks Lodge #2537.
At the September meeting, Cobb was eloquent in summing up his years in elected office, and gave credit to those who helped him over the years.
"It certainly takes a village, it takes a council," he said, "and not only this council but other council men who provided leadership and a vote."