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Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos not seeking re-election, vacating position early

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos is shown in the town's council chambers on Monday, June 20, 2022. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos is shown in the town’s council chambers on Monday, June 20, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

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Long-serving Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos will vacate his position next month and is taking a job outside Windsor-Essex.

In a news release on Monday, the town said Santos, 51, would not run for a sixth term as mayor in the upcoming municipal election and would be stepping away from the mayor’s office on July 17.

Santos, a father of three — Emelia, 13, and seven-year-old twins Jaxson and Madelyn — told the Star he is pursuing a new career opportunity with a different municipality, a change that will afford him more time with his family.

“It’s certainly bittersweet,” Santos said. “As a community-builder, there’s no greater honour than being able to represent our residents and elevate the community effort we have in Kingsville, to continue to grow and make progress.”

The decision to walk away from his position “was not an easy one,” he said, “but it’s the right time. Given the opportunities that are before me for the future, and for my family, it’s important to move forward.”

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Santos will continue doing work “for community and community growth,” he said. He declined to specify which municipality has offered him a position, opting to allow that municipality to make the announcement but did say he will be moving out of Windsor-Essex.

The town is working closely with Santos to ensure “a smooth transition and a seamless continuation of municipal business,” the town’s release said.

Santos was first elected to Kingsville council in 1997. In 2003, he was elected mayor and is currently serving his fifth term in the role.

In 2006, Santos was elected by his peers to serve as the first four-year warden of the County of Essex. He also served as deputy warden from 2003 to 2006, and again from 2018 to present.

Mayor Nelson Santos, left, and Jennifer Astrologo, director of corporate services, are seen at a Kingsville Council Meeting. Mayor Nelson Santos, left, and Jennifer Astrologo, director of corporate services, are seen at a Kingsville Council Meeting. Photo by Nick Brancaccio /Windsor Star

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Santos, who also works as executive director of Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary, said he is one of “few mayors that can say they actually lost their full-time employment through the pandemic.” That had a “critical impact” on his family’s life, prompting them to “sit back and determine the best next steps for us as a whole.”

Reflecting on his time in office, Santos said he will miss working with the town’s staff, who have been like a second family to him.

“We have celebrated so much together through special events and milestones, and we have also mourned together through tragedies and losses within our community,” he said. “Thank you, Kingsville. Thank you residents for your belief and support in me over the course of eight elections. I remain humbled by the service and progress we have made together over these years.”

Not running. LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy is shown at his office on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. Bondy has decided not to seek re-election in October's municipal election.

LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy not running for re-election in October

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo poses in front of a sign at the east entrance of town on Friday, September 22, 2017. There is controversy over the name Amherst, named after a general who supported genocide against Indigenous people.

Amherstburg mayor Aldo DiCarlo not running for re-election

Ray Durocher is shown in this Aug. 8, 2018, photo in Windsor after he was acclaimed mayor of Pelee Island.

Pelee Island mayor to retire, business owner files to run

John Norton, Kingsville’s chief administrative officer, said the town has benefited from Santos’s dedication and leadership over the past two decades.

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“He has served this community for a very long time and we thank him for everything he has done to strengthen our municipality,” Norton said.

Gord Queen, the town’s deputy mayor, will serve as acting mayor until further direction from council is given.

Santos follows three other Essex County mayors in announcing they will not seek re-election this fall: Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy, and Pelee Island Mayor Raymond Durocher.

Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara have both filed for re-election. Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens have not yet made their intentions known.

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Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos is shown in the town’s council chambers on Monday, June 20, 2022. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos is shown in the town’s council chambers on Monday, June 20, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

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