Cochran: Work on the council is my campaign
WEST MAUI – Now amid her second two-year term, West Maui County Councilwoman Elle Cochran said “what you see is what you get,” and residents appreciate her record on behalf of the community.
Working a busy schedule at the council, going to meetings and attending events, “your job is your campaign,” said Cochran.
Voters see council members on the job and can evaluate them based on their actions.
Cochran said accomplishments in her current term include introducing and passing county-level legislation, “Relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms,” that would require mandatory disclosure of information relating to pesticides and genetically modified crops.
The legislation’s stated goal is “to inform the public and protect against direct, indirect and cumulative negative health impacts.”
With the required 8,500-plus valid signatures in hand, the SHAKA Movement advanced to the County Council a petition to place a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs).
The council did not adopt the ordinance, so it will appear on the 2014 general election ballot for consideration by the electorate.
Cochran, 49, is excited by the residents’ “historic movement” on the GMO issue, and she urged voters to get educated and fully understand the ballot question.
And, since she introduced the GMO disclosure legislation supported by a rumored 20,000 people backing the SHAKA Movement, “I’m banking on them voting for me,” Cochran said.
Additional accomplishments include assisting Councilman Don Guzman in passing Bill 24, prohibiting tobacco use and products in county parks and facilities, including beaches; securing funding for West Maui recycling centers and supporting the Maui Nui Canoe Race and King Kamehameha Day Parade; holding meetings to educate council members on injection wells and surrounding issues in her role as chair of the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee; and, recently, pursuing the principles of zero waste as a management policy for the County of Maui and backing an ordinance to regulate the use of polystyrene disposable food service containers to protect the environment.
Upcoming priorities for the council include supporting recycling and looking at ways to facilitate affordable housing.
Into her fourth year, Cochran said she has a good rapport with the other council members and department leaders in the county administration.
Anyone can run for the council, she said, “but you have to hit the ground running to be effective.”
With veteran employees for past council members Jo Anne Johnson-Winer and Wayne Nishiki working in her office, she said she benefits from a very good staff.
Cochran said she continues to learn on the job. There was no “how-to book” when she was first elected, so she approached each council member to talk about how they approach the job and their experiences as an elected official. Each gave her different answers.
She said council members must act on their feet and be true to themselves.
“You have to know who you are,” she said, and not worry about what’s popular.
Through her work as a councilwoman and as a leader with the Save Honolua Coalition, Cochran said it’s clear “what people I represent and speak for”: advocates to protect the land, environment and ocean.
An advocate of smart growth, sustainable projects and walkable/bike-able communities, Cochran said some consider her anti-development.
She doesn’t expect to land any big endorsements, although the Sierra Club is in her corner.
Called the “conscience” of the County Council by a supporter on Facebook this week, Cochran is outspoken.
Through building rapport and respect with the other members of the council, she said “they understand I’m not blowing hot air” when she pursues projects or initiatives.
Acting on behalf of the community, she tells her peers what she is asking for and why it is important. Members of the council may agree to disagree, and that’s part of the government process.
Born and raised in Lahaina, Cochran completed General Educational Development study. She is married to Wayne Cochran of Maui Surfboards.
For information on her campaign, visit electelle.com/.