Feud at the Top Divides Demos

Feud at the Top Divides Demos Chris Cot
é remains as campaign coordinator; Club president calls squabble
‘internal politics’
Gilroy – Local environmental and political activist Christopher Coté has survived a squabble with the head of the South County Democratic Club that nearly cost him his job as the group’s campaign coordinator.

Coté is an outspoken activist on a number of local issues who some see as a rising star within the region’s Democratic party. Last year, he earned an appointment to the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee after helping Simón Salinas (D-Salinas) win re-election to the state assembly; earlier this summer, Coté was voted campaign coordinator by members of the South County Democratic Club.

On Wednesday, the 10 members comprising the club’s executive board met to discuss, among other things, a request for Coté’s resignation from the club’s governing body, according to club spokesman Alex Kennett.

Club president Mark Moore said he placed the item on the agenda and e-mailed it to other executive board members but would not confirm that it was Coté’s resignation he wanted to discuss.

While the agenda listed discussion of “resignations of more than one party,” Moore said none of the board members ultimately resigned.

“We all just sat down and discussed everything and decided it was best to work things out,” he said.

Coté declined to comment on the matter, calling it a “non-issue issue.”

The flap began over concerns about politicizing an awards ceremony for youth volunteers, held during the club’s Sept. 17 political fundraiser.

According to club members, Coté and Moore butted heads over whether Democratic council candidates Peter Arellano and Charles Morales should give campaign speeches, with Coté opposing the idea.

“Mark had opened the invitation for all of us to speak, but I think a lot of speeches would have downplayed the importance of recognition of youth,” Morales said. “I was trying to extend the olive branch between Chris and Mr. Moore. I wanted to be the peacemaker of what was considered an internal conflict.”

While the fundraiser supported his re-election campaign, Morales chose to forego his stump speech.

“I wanted to give the honor to the youth for their outstanding accomplishments,” Morales said. “They were youth – not Democrats, not Republicans.”

The awards spate is not the first controversy to revolve around Coté, who was asked to resign earlier in the year from the volunteer board of CALSTAR, a nonprofit helicopter rescue service. The CALSTAR board asked Coté to step down following complaints that he used overly aggressive tactics in his efforts to force the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce to stop endorsing political candidates. Coté began that crusade after the group’s board of directors reversed a recommendation by a chamber subcommittee to endorse Salinas, whose campaign Coté worked on at the time.

As for the most recent flap surrounding his stance on candidate speeches at the awards ceremony, Coté said: “Mark Moore is the president of our organization and I would defer to his leadership on issues like this.”

Moore also sought to downplay the matter.

“It’s internal politics that happens with any organization,” he said. “But once people had a chance to sit down with each other and work things out, we were able to focus on the real purpose of our Democratic club, which is working for our principles, candidates, and issues that are important to all of our club members.”