Lori Cowan attributes much of her success on the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors to the connections she has established throughout her time in office.
It was her connections with the hospital and College of the Redwoods that helped bring a Registered Nursing program back to Del Norte. It was her connections with transportation departments that made headway with Last Chance Grade, and it was her connections with non-profits that brought upcoming homeless assistance.
She would hate to see those relationships fade — and the projects fall through as a result — if she were to be replaced. That is precisely why she is running in the March 3 election again as a candidate for District 2 supervisor. She has momentum and does not want to stop.
“I love what I’m doing. There’s things that I’ve started — programs — that I want to see come to fruition. I have projects that I’ve been working on, and they take time,” Cowan said. “I want to see them through.”
Before serving on the board of supervisors, she sat on the Del Norte County Unified School District (DNUSD) board from 2010 to 2014.
To say Cowan is busy in the community would be an understatement. She serves on 18 committees and boards, not including the board of supervisors. She owns the restaurant North Coast Grill with her husband, and she works as a real estate agent for North Woods Realty, Inc.
All this work is for the purpose of giving to her community. When Cowan moved to Del Norte County 18 years ago, she was pregnant with her youngest child. She raised her children and made her life here, which instilled a desire to serve her friends, family and community.
“This is where I made friends, you know, and my kids, this is where their lives are. So you want to make sure this is the best it is,” Cowan said. “Giving back. That’s the way I was raised. That’s the way I raised my kids. You give back to your community.”
That desire has factored into her work as a supervisor. For instance, she has played a key role in gathering funding for not just maintaining Last Chance Grade, but for improving it.
“To other people, it may be business or whatever, but to me, it touched home because I’ve raised my kids here and all my friends have raised their kids here,” Cowan said.
Last Chance Grade is a three-mile landslide on U.S. Highway 101 between Klamath and Crescent City. For 30-some years, Last Chance Grade has threatened the only passageway between the two cities, a route many travel daily.
“It’s my son and my children, our children who get on a bus and have to travel that. Or it’s myself or a family member who has to travel it to go to a doctor’s appointment. Or it’s the families that are separated between Klamath and Crescent City. You know, that’s what it is to me, what it means to our community,” Cowan said.
For the first time, the county has funding for a solution and alternative routes, thanks to Cowan and others connecting and negotiating with federal highway officials on the county, state and national levels.
However, Last Chance Grade is just one of the many projects she is invested in, according to Cowan, and she hopes this next election will allow her the chance to continue working on them.
“I love what I do, but it’s hard for me to take kudos for what I do because what I do involves so many other people,” Cowan said. “I can’t do anything alone. It’s all those partnerships and relationships that make things happen.”