Santos, mayor disagree on why councilman quit Recreation Committee

Gary Santos

Town Councilman Gary Santos and Mayor Linda Page disagree over what prompted him to resign from council's Recreation Committee, an area of longtime passion for Santos, who has coached here since 1977.

Santos said Monday that Page was going to offer him the committee's chairmanship, provided he would ease off his criticism over the density of some new development in the town - and provided he would accept a change requiring council members to get two colleagues to agree before they put an item on Town Council's agenda.

"I just wasn't willing to do it," he said.

Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on that change, though Page said she will recommend that the proposal be amended to require only one colleague - not two - consent to any agenda additions.

Page said she ultimately decided to deny Santos the Recreation Committee's chair because she wanted to make sure committee chairs would work well with the town staff.

"Unfortunately, Councilman Santos is not on that level," she said.

"He doesn't agree with me on the direction recreation should take, and ultimately, I don't think he agrees with our recreation staff, either. I don't want to create any more tension than I have to."

Page said she recently held individual meetings with Santos and other members to discuss the town's committees. Council also is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on structural changes to merge its annexation and planning committees and create a new standing education panel.

She said she would announce the town's new committee makeup after council takes its final vote on those changes at the meeting.

Page said she asked Santos to reconsider his decision to resign from recreation but later found a possible replacement "and that is probably the direction I'll go in."

Santos, who ran for mayor in 2009, has emerged as a favorite of Save Shem Creek, a new nonprofit concerned with growth. He was "amazed" at the warm welcome he received at that group's meeting last week.

"It really sent a chill up my spine," he said. "I've never had a standing ovation before."

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.