Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Former councilman seeks return to office

ISLAMORADA -- Chris Sante, who served two Village Council terms between 2002 and 2008, announced last week that he'll seek a return to the dais this November.

Sante submitted qualifying papers to run for the council's Seat 4, joining a crowded race that already features another two-time former councilman, Bob Johnson, as well as hotelier Paul Bates and real estate agent Janet Wood.

All four candidates are seeking to replace Mayor Ted Blackburn, who is not seeking a third term.

"My background of being involved in the village for six years and my business experience allows me to bring a lot to the table, whereas I believe the other candidates don't have the same level of experience," Sante told the Free Press last week.

He said he chose to run for the open seat because the four incumbents who are pursuing another term are doing a good job.

One of those incumbents, Dave Purdo, had drawn competition as of Monday, one day before the deadline to qualify for the ballot. He will face former State Attorney Dennis Ward.

Incumbent Deb Gillis was expected to face local businessman Buddy Pinder, if he completed the required qualification procedure by the Tuesday deadline.

Councilmen Mike Forster and Ken Philipson were expected to retain their seats barring an 11th hour challenge on Tuesday.

During his previous council tenure Sante became the first person in the short history of the village to be chosen three times by his colleagues to hold the largely honorary mayoral post.

Sante is one of three Islamoradans, along with three-time mayor Michael Reckwerdt and village founder Ron Levy, to be bestowed the title of mayor emeritus.

His business holdings in the Upper Keys include a mortgage brokerage, a pest control business and numerous rental properties.

Sante said one reason he is seeking office is to be involved in the process of changing the village's architectural standards. The village has already begun discussing regulations aimed at preserving Islamorada's small-town character in the face of a potential influx of chain stores.

Sante also wants to reduce the town's payroll.

"I believe we are still overstaffed," he said.

The race for Seat 4 will renew the rivalry between Johnson and Sante, who often clashed over development and other issues while they served together nearly a decade ago.

Johnson took Sante's announcement in stride Friday afternoon.

"I think the campaign ought to be fun," he said.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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