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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org