Cowen announces candidacy

February 1, 2019

John Cowen, a Brownsville native and president of Cowen Group LTD, said he’s running for a seat on the Brownsville City Commission in part because he thinks the business community needs a stronger voice in city governance.

He officially filed on Jan. 30 in his run for the City Commission At Large “A” seat, held by attorney Cesar De Leon since 2015.

“I think really the city needs to operate more like a business,” Cowen said. “We are in the business of providing customer service to our citizens, right? I think we need to do a better job overall at being efficient and utilizing our resources in a planned, logical way, and not just for pet projects.”

He said he aims to improve the city’s economic development entities, infrastructure maintenance and planning, and local government transparency, if elected. Cowen said his service on various boards has been a lesson in good leadership and its opposite.

“I think having a good vision and being able to work in a team effectively is important,” Cowen said. “I think a lot of times our leadership is disjointed and there’s a lot of conflict that gives a negative appearance to outside investors. I think we really need to work together in a better way. I think that’s something other cities in the Valley do a much better job at.”

He’s served as vice chairman of the board of the Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville since 2012, and is president of the non-profit Housing Opportunity Corporation. Cowen has served on the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation board from 2015 to 2018, and in 2017 became the youngest member of the board of the IBC Bank in Brownsville.

In 2015, he was the only representative of the Rio Grande Valley serving the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, as director of its Emerging Leaders Council. Cowen was appointed to the Texas Business Leadership Council last year.

The St. Joseph Academy graduate served on the school’s board from 2010 to 2016 and as board chairman from 2013 to 2016. Cowen earned a bachelor’s degree in finance with honors in 2002 from the University of Notre Dame, working for Deloitte & Touche, a multinational auditing, accounting, financial advisory, risk management and tax services firm, before returning home in 2007 to join the company founded by his father, who died in April.

“With a growing, young workforce, we have all the assets to be the brightest spot in the Valley economy,” Cowen said. “I believe that I am the right person to help us achieve our vast potential. ... I think I can provide a real positive direction for the city.”

Early voting for the upcoming city election is April 22-30. Election Day is May 4th.