Kouchi has become a council institution

LIHU’E — Ron Kouchi has seen it all in nine terms on the Kaua`i County


The current council chairman can sometimes look like he’s not

paying attention.

But anyone who attends a few council meetings is quickly

disabused of that notion. Kouchi is quite often the council member who pops up

with the pointed question.

“I have a body language problem,” he said,

smiling. “Democracy when it works can seem slow and tedious. But as the old

quote goes, we’ve looked at all the options and we haven’t found a better


Kouchi said he knows there is a time to listen and a time to


“At some point you do need to take some initiative. You have to pull

the trigger. My reputation is that I can get things done,” Kouchi said.


most important thing to get done next term if he’s re-elected this fall,

according to Kouchi, involves the island’s children.

The 42-year-old father

of two, married to a school teacher (Joy), wants to make sure Kauai’s children

are technologically competitive.

“We need to become more reliant on

ourselves through technology,” he said. “I went to visit a friend I hadn’t see

for a while recently who runs a produce company, and all seven employees had a

computer on their desk. Whatever people are doing, computers are there. It’s

not just at a tech center in Waimea.”

Kouchi, like his colleagues on the

council, knows what the upcoming big ticket items will be.

“We’re trying to

make sure we can have local ownership of the utility (Kaua’i Electric). Dealing

with solid waste, as we’ve been doing. And the whole issue of affordable

housing and empowering local residents to be ready to deal with the new

economy,” Kouchi said.

While in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, he

helped the county’s housing experts with Kaua`i’s application for a $5 million

federal grant to expand Kalepa Village, a housing project, he


Followers of the local political scene have been mentioning Kouchi

as a mayoral candidate for the past couple of elections. Kouchi sidestepped the

question. Sort of.

“The reality is I need to get re-elected to the council

first,” he said. “There isn’t a current member on the council who says he

doesn’t want to, who doesn’t think about” being mayor.

“On the council,” he

said, “you have to get three or four votes to get things done. The mayor makes

his or her own recommendations. All of us (on the council) feel we have good


Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext.

252) and dwilken@pulitzer.ne


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