And it’s official: Maui County Councilmember Elle Cochran is running for Mayor. Her new campaign website, Elle4mayor.com, went live Wednesday night.
“I became involved in government because I realized that the leaders in office at the time were not representing my voice or the will of the people,” Cochran says on the website. “I went from never having voted in my life, to realizing that I can actively participate and do something to help preserve and protect this place that we all love so much. I knew that I could listen to the people and be that missing voice that was so desperately needed. Seven years later and I have remained true to my intentions and true to my community as an unwavering voice for the people. Often times I have stood up as a lone voice for issues that meant something to this community. In the face of adversity it can be difficult at times to stand your ground, but I have never been one to back down from a difficult task or a complicated problem, especially when its the right thing to do. I believe that if it is the will of the people, we as policy-makers, should and can find a way to make it happen. My office has earned a reputation for thinking outside of the box to find solutions to our county’s long standing problems. I aim to bring this progressive and innovative thinking to the administration.”
Cochran’s statement that she’s often a “lone voice” is no lie–her longstanding opposition to the county’s big landowners and developers guarantees her a seat at the card table with the kids at pretty much every official function (assuming she’s allowed inside in the first place). Back in 2014, when she was facing a tough reelection battle against Ka`ala Buenconsejo, a then-political neophyte who was benefitting from lavish campaign ads paid for by the carpenters union and other land developer interests, Cochran told me an amusing but telling story that exemplifies the price she’s long paid.
“The carpenters union has never endorsed me,” Cochran told me, then recalled her interview with them when she first ran for office. “Their big question was how do I feel about the conversion of hotels to timeshares. I told them that I know it gives them a lot of jobs, but I lost my job because of timeshares. They downsized a lot of people when they converted to a timeshare. Ever since, I haven’t been asked back.”
Cochran’s list of legislative achievements on the website is impressive. It spans a variety of issues, though most touch on environmental concerns. Here are just a few:
• Introduced Legislation Regulating Oxybenzone
• Banned Polystyrene
• Introduced Legislation to Further Restrict Plastic Bag Usage in Maui County
• Introduced a Resolution to Prohibit the Sale and Trade of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn in Hawaii
• Introduced Legislation Regulating Genetically Modified Organisms
• Introduced Legislation Relating to the Restoration of Maui’s Coral Reefs
Cochran has been a member of the County Council since 2010, and in that time she’s grown very popular. In the 2016 General Election, Cochran was the highest vote-getter of anyone elected to the Maui County Council. Her 31,970 votes even topped fellow County Councilmember Don Guzman (he won with 30,764 votes), who also recently announced that he’s running for Mayor (as is current Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui).
Popular though she might be, Cochran’s campaign doesn’t have a lot of money. In fact, her most recent filing with the Campaign Spending Commission, which covers Jan. 1-June 30 of this year, indicates her campaign committee is nearly $59,000 in debt.
Photo courtesy County of Maui