Henry Cote made a smooth transition from growing up in the mountains to being surrounded by lakes, and now he’s made a leap into serving his community.
Cote, 33, moved to the lakes area full time nearly three years ago and is the newest - and youngest - member of the Lake Shore City Council.
He grew up just outside of Aspen, Colorado, in the mountain town of Old Snowmass. The small subdivision is similar in size to Lake Shore, he said. He graduated from Aspen High School and then obtained a degree in marketing from Metropolitan State University in Denver, where he lived and worked for six and a half years.
"Ever since I was a kid I would come up to the lake. My family is part of Grand View. I was blessed to have mountains in the winter, lakes in the summer."
— Henry Cote.
But Cote is no stranger to the Brainerd lakes area.
“Ever since I was a kid I would come up to the lake,” Cote said. “My family is part of Grand View. I was blessed to have mountains in the winter, lakes in the summer.”
As he grew up though, he found himself visiting the lakes area less and less.
“I went from coming here all summer to two weeks, to 10 days,” Cote said.
In 2018, he realized he didn’t like his job, his lease was up where he lived in Denver, and there was a house available in Lake Shore for him to buy. He picked up and moved here and hasn’t looked back since.
He worked as a financial adviser in Denver, but realized he wasn’t a finance guy. After moving here, he worked for 10 months at American National Bank in Pequot Lakes and Nisswa.
“I had a great time but it reinstilled in me that I’m not a numbers guy,” Cote said.
So he obtained his real estate license and now works for Positive Realty. In addition, he and a friend are starting a boat rental company this summer, he’s remodeling his house and he was elected to the Lake Shore City Council last November.
“I have a lot of moving parts, so it’s exciting,” Cote said.
Lake Shore Mayor Krista Knudsen, who served on the council before taking over as mayor this year, encouraged Cote to put his name on the ballot, he said. Cote worked with Knudsen’s husband, Kevin, at Zorbaz on Gull for a while and got to know the Knudsens.
“She presented the idea to me and talked about how interesting it was. She was the motivator behind me running,” Cote said.
"She (Lake Shore Mayor, Krista Knudsen) presented the idea to me and talked about how interesting it was. She was the motivator behind me running (for Lakeshore city council)."
— Henry Cote.
He’s always been interested in civic duties, and now appreciates the secondary benefits of being on the fast track to understanding his community better as a council member.
“I’m learning about things I would have never looked into otherwise,” he said.
He has no agenda as a council member, except to experience serving, see if he likes it, do the right thing and keep the community’s goals in mind.
Knudsen likes that Cote is younger and brings a totally different background to the council than anyone else has.
“I always heard that he’s just a standup guy. What you see is what you get,” she said. “He just brings a different perspective.”
Cote’s ties to the lakes area go back to his grandparents, Brownie and Judy Cote, who bought Grand View Lodge in 1937. The Cote family continues to own Grand View and other properties. His father, Bo, is retired and splits his time between this area and California. His mom, Beth, continues to live in Old Snowmass. Cote is the youngest of the third generation of Cotes and he worked at Grand View every summer for many years.
“It was definitely how I met my friends and got close to people up here,” he said.
He appreciates the family business, but said: “I want to blaze my own trail. I like doing my own thing. I’m blessed to be part of that - it’s huge, I’m super lucky.”
While he’ll still visit Colorado, where he grew up skiing and snowboarding, he loves this area too.
“I like Lake Shore in Minnesota. ‘Minnesota Nice’ is a real thing. People work hard and respect that,” he said.
"I like Lake Shore in Minnesota. 'Minnesota Nice' is a real thing. People work hard and respect that."
— Henry Cote.
Hobbies include any adventurous outdoor activities, including snowmobiling, golfing and being on the lake. He volunteers and teaches at Mount Ski Gull.
“I like being out and about and doing things,” Cote said. “I’m not one to go climb a mountain, but I’ll go out on the golf course and hang out outside any day of the week.”
He credits his mom with his love of the outdoors, saying she’s always been extremely outdoorsy, including owning horses, going horseback riding and camping.
The Minnesota mentality is what Cote loves best about this area. Growing up in Aspen and Denver was very different from here, he said.
“Lake Shore is friendly. It’s a great community,” he said.
Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.