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Joe Coto (born Miami, Arizonamarker, United States) is an American educator, city councilmember, and a Democratic politician. He is currently serving his third and final two year term as a member of the California State Assembly, leaving office late in 2010. He serves as Chair of the Assembly's Insurance committee, and holds positions on the Elections and Redistricting committee, Governmental Organization committee, and the Revenue and Taxation committee. He also serves on the Special committee on Urban Education.


Prior to elective office

Coto began his career as a Social Studies teacher in the Oakland Unified School District. He worked in a variety of administrative positions and left the school district to serve as a City Councilmember for the City of Oakland. After his four year term on the city council, he ran for Mayor of Oakland and almost beat a long time incumbent. He returned to the school district and ultimately became Superintendent of the Oakland Public Schools in 1984. In 1988, he was recruited to serve as Superintendant of the East Side Union High School District in San Jose, and served in that position for the next 14 years. In recognition of his contributions as superintendent of East Side Union High School District, the Association of California School Administrators named him the 2003 Superintendent of the Year.

One of his major successes as Superintendant in San Jose was Senate Bill 1051, an $80 million dollar increase in funding promoting diversity in San Jose's school system. The legislation has since brought close to a billion dollars to school districts in East San Jose over the years. Coto was also able to bring nearly half a billion dollars in grant monies and improvement bonds to the East Side Union High School District.

As an elected official

Coto was elected to the California State Assembly to represent California's 23rd Assembly district in 2004.

New laws sponsored by Coto cover a variety of fields including educational bills providing support to underachieving schools, standards for math instruction for blind students, and over $30 million to support english learners and flexibility in spending to support the educational program. He authored a bill to protect students from vendors trying to entice them with gifts to get them to apply for credit cards. Coto was also responsible for establishing an eminence credential for Native American languages to be taught in California's schools (cosponsored by Assembly member Tom Ammiano).

In the area of health, one of his bills provides cultural and linguistic training for physicians so that they can serve their patients more effectively and another extends the Healthy Families’ program so that children throughout the state can be eligible for health insurance. Working in collaboration with the California Chamber of Commerce, as well as other employer groups, such as the California Federation of Labor, he authored legislation to fix part of the workers compensation system in a way that benefits both business and labor.

Coto recently completed a 2 year term serving as Chair of the 26 member Latino Legislative Caucus, prior to becoming Chair he served 2 years as the Vice Chair. The Latino Caucus is seen as one of the most influential in the legislature. The Caucus’ focus is primarily on improving the quality of life for working families in California. With over 35 % of the population in California being Latino, the issues affecting them affect all Californians.

Key legislative priorities identified by the Latino Caucus are: Education, Health, Housing, Economic Development and Leadership.

Due to term limits, Coto will have to retire from the Assembly in 2010.

Personal life

Coto was born in Miami, Arizonamarker, one of four children, to Mexican-American parents. His father worked in the copper mines for over 30 years, and was responsible for encouraging Coto and his three sisters to attend college. All four of the siblings would go on to graduate from college. Coto was educated and received his degree from San Diego State Universitymarker. He received his administrative credential from Cal State Haywardmarker, as well as a Masters in Administration from the University of Phoenix. He has also studied at Columbia University, in New York.

Coto and wife, Camille Coto, have been married for 35 years and have two daughters. Both daughters graduated from the University of California, Berkeleymarker.


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