Ron Kouchi | Articles

Leader of the Senate



April 20, 2016


Senate President Ronald Kouchi may be one of the most politically powerful people in Hawaii, but he hasn’t forgotten his modest Westside roots.

“I’m flattered and humbled that my colleagues asked me to be the leader of the chamber and that they have the confidence in my skills,” he says to Kauai Midweek during one of his weekend trips home.

He is the first Senate president — elected in May 2015 — to come from the Garden Isle.

“I am honored and, at the same time, very cognizant of trying to work hard to do well because I’m representing the island in a much different way,” says Kouchi, who initially was elected to the state Senate in 2010.

Though he describes the current legislative session as “quiet,” the Lihue resident has high aspirations. He wants to continue to support and deliver quality health care to Kauai Veterans Memorial and Samuel Mahelona Memorial hospitals. He also wants to help lower the temperature in public school classrooms by raising roofs and installing louvers to create cross ventilation. Other items on his agenda include appropriating funding for affordable housing on Kauai, and making transportation a priority, especially in the Wailua-Kapaa corridor, where he aims to find improvement while at the same time resolving cultural issues pertaining to iwi (Hawaiian bones).

During the current fiscal year, Kouchi helped adopt a $10 million budget for county projects, such as updating the waterline between Hanapepe and Ele‘ele, and building bus shelters around the island. He hopes to provide even more for the upcoming fiscal year.

“We are in a financially sound position now,” he says.

Yet even though the economic forecast remains steady, he says it’s wise to remain cautious, especially when Hawaii is so dependent upon a volatile industry like tourism.