Chamber and Chris Coté, part II

I really didn’t want to write yet another Chamber column, but in
the wake of the week, I feel compelled to address some of the
latest issues which have been the subject of many articles,
opinions and letters to the editor.
I really didn’t want to write yet another Chamber column, but in the wake of the week, I feel compelled to address some of the latest issues which have been the subject of many articles, opinions and letters to the editor. I am now a new member of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. I joined because I believe that the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce does and will continue to provide vital support to many endeavors in our community. I did some homework this week about the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. They are a great resource and support for Hispanic businesses both here in Gilroy and across the nation. There is obviously room in our small city for two thriving chambers.

That being said, this Chamber member would like to see change in the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. The Board of Directors and the employees of the Chamber do not, in my opinion, accurately reflect the city of Gilroy. I believe they are stuck in a time warp. Our chamber does not look like Gilroy; not ethnically, not racially, not politically.

It is as if the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is in place to serve a city that no longer exists. Gilroy may at one time have been a politically conservative place, but this is not Gilroy circa 2005. No one is accusing Tim Day or Susan Valenta or Jane Howard of being racist. I do believe that they need to take off their blinders and get an accurate picture of the city.

Gilroy today is a moderate town where both John Kerry and Simon Salinas handily defeated their conservative Republican opponents in the last election. The face of Gilroy is more than half Hispanic; non-Hispanic people are the minority in Gilroy. There are many Asian, African-American and Filipino residents who have chosen to make Gilroy their home over the last few years. I do not limit myself to doing business with only people who are like me; from the East coast, or Catholic, or liberal, or Irish. I am looking forward to hearing the full voice of the people of Gilroy as I attend Chamber functions. We are a diverse community, and I am hoping that the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce will soon respect and reflect our diversity.

As an added bonus, the Chamber story set off a series of articles and letters concerning Chamber member Chris Coté. Chris is being applauded one day for working to defeat a proposal that would place a monstrous cell tower in rural Gilroy, and jeered at the next day for proposing that the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce might want to consider giving representation from the majority population in Gilroy to its political endorsement committee.

Tuesday, Joseph Thompson wrote in to remind us all that Coté made some mistakes in his past. Since I didn’t live in Gilroy in 1989, I researched this incident. It appears that all the money he owed to GUSD has been paid back with interest.

In my Catholic faith, we have a wonderful sacrament called reconciliation. The Jewish faith places high value on atonement. Both reconciliation and atonement recognize that we need to acknowledge our sins and make amends. The element of atonement is part of every successful 12-step program. It is imperative that people have the ability to forgive each other, because making mistakes is part of the human condition.

Coté has more than reconciled with GUSD, he has in word and deed committed himself to work on environmental causes which improve the quality of life for all of us.

He has written and passed ordinances on regulating microwave towers that emit radiation for both the City of Gilroy and San Benito County. I place great value on his support for the Britton family in their recent hearing before the Santa Clara County Planning Commission.

Coté is working for the good of the people in Gilroy here and now while Thompson is holding a decades-old grudge. You be the judge.

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