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Coté will take seat on Milton council

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Two candidates declare for two open seats

The field for the Milton municipal election is set, and the only race in March will be for the seat with the gavel.

Only two candidates filed to run for two open seats on town council. John Collier and Michael Cote will assume their seats at the April meeting, pending a background check by the Board of Elections. They will replace Councilman Norman Lester and Vice Mayor Leah Betts, who each chose not to run for another term.

Cote was the final candidate to throw his hat in the ring. Cote worked as an accountant for a Fortune 500 company; he said he was motivated to run for council when he heard Lester likely would not seek another term.

"I haven't been in CPA practice as long as Norman, but ... I think it's important for somebody in that body to have that background," he said.

Cote serves on the finance committee and Cannery Village ad hoc committee. He moved to Milton about a year-and-a-half ago from Pottsville, Pa., home of the Yuengling brewery. As a resident of Cannery Village, Cote still lives next to a brewery: Dogfish Head is his current neighbor. Cote, 64, is retired, but said he can still do work if it arrives through normal channels.

"I only need the computer, a phone and access to an airport," he said.

When he joins council in April, Cote said, one of his main focuses will be to continue the work started by Lester to clean up the town's books and implement better accounting practices and controls.

"I probably have a better understanding of what Norman has been trying to do," he said. "I think they've made some good progress in finding some sources of difficulties and implementing some systems and controls to improve the process. I think there's still more to do."

He said he'd also like to try to improve the budget process.

"I think the budget process the last two years has been more contentious than it should be," he said.

In his corporate life, Cote was in charge of consolidating the budgets for the different divisions of his company.

Cote bought his home in Cannery Village in 2008 and serves as the only property owner on the board of directors of the Cannery Village Community Association. The other three directors are members of developer Chestnut Properties. "I get to vote on the budget, and I get some say in preparing the budget," he said. "Then we get to disagree about some of it. And I get to be the voice of some of the concerns in the meetings -for the roads, for what happens with the retention pond that we actually sold to Dogfish."

He said once he's on council he would like to ensure Cannery Village is represented fairly with the town. Overall, he said, he's hoping to bring the council and town together.

"I think it's a great little town," he said. "I think we have a lot of divisions that if we could bring some of that together, we would be a hell of a little town I'd like to think I can contribute in some of the bringing together."

Milton's municipal election to choose a mayor will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at Town Hall. The race will feature Mayor Cliff Newlands, seeking a second term, and Councilwoman Marion Jones, who is in the midst of her first term on council. The deadline to register to vote is Friday, Feb. 1. Eligible residents may register at Town Hall between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residents may also register Saturdays Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. To be eligible to vote, residents must be a U.S. citizen, a primary resident of Milton for at least 60 days, at least 18 years old and have no felony convictions.

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Original Publication Date: January 4, 2013

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