LIHUE — Felicia Cowden has filed to run for the Kauai County Council.
“I feel that we are in a critical window of time, where people are losing their houses, the community is just being pushed either off the island or into their cars, many people are struggling, “ Cowden said. “It’s hard to find people to even be able to work.”
For decades, Cowden, who has an engineering background and has run a small business as well as a school, said she’s been involved with what’s been happening on Kauai and now that her children are grown and she doesn’t have another job, she has time to dedicate to solving these issues.
The most concerning issue for Kauai, she said, is the displacement of people.
“I see that all kinds of good quality, wonderful people, that don’t have a place to be. A place to go. Many people are struggling, many people are just hanging on, especially and including our host culture and Hawaiian people. We aren’t Hawaii, without Hawaiians. That is very near and dear to my heart,” she said.
Healing Kauai’s land so we can have a resilient environment is another concern for Cowden.
We need to have food production, healthy land management. I think that’s what’s really evident,” she said.
“When we look at our traffic, our crumbling infrastructure, our housing and then how we pay for all of these, it takes diversity on the council. We need to come from a range of backgrounds and experiences and a familiarity with different areas,” she said.
Cowden said Kauai needs to take a more holistic look at some of her problems, including the real property tax structure, especially when the County relies so heavily on non-resident owners.
“It’s no big surprise that so much zoning goes for the non-resident owners,” she said. “They’re the ones being taxed, to pay the bills.”
One of the solutions, she said is to simplify housing and out-create the problem. Affordable housing is at the crux of it. “We shouldn’t make it be that only the wealthy can afford to have a home,” she said.
Building a resilient Kauai, is something Cowden is passionate about working towards as a councilmember.
“With diversified agriculture placed appropriately to make us more able to weather a storm, better to be able to feed ourselves when we grow our own food, we don’t need near as much trash, the capacity,” she said.
Cowden also said she wants to see that people can expect their grandchildren to be able to live on Kauai.
“That we have generational continuity and that our host cultures are perpetuated, not just preserved. That we stay a vibrant, cultural location, certainly with the Hawaiian culture shining brightly,” she said.
That Kauai will be able to have a local based economy.
“Not be at the affect of the boot print of the global economy, utilizing Kauai as a resource. This is a home, not a resource,” Cowden said.
Bethany Freudenthal, Courts, Crime and County reporter, 652-7891 firstname.lastname@example.org