Promoting local businesses and growth, rather than spending that money overseas, are priorities for Robstown City Council candidate Noe De Los Santos as he looks to win his first seat in public office.

De Los Santos, 72, is a lifelong resident of Robstown. His wife of 50 years, Guadalupe, passed away in 2009. De Los Santos had four children with his wife, all of whom are now adults with families of their own.

De Los Santos, who will be facing incumbent Place 5 Council Member Elias Vasquez in the May 14 city election, served in the U.S Army Reserve for seven years when he was younger and is a retiree of Valero Refinery, where he worked 21 years as a lab technician.

Having spent all his life in his hometown, De Los Santos said he is worried about the city's spending habits when it comes to promoting economic growth in the area.

"I believe in being conservative with money that doesn't belong to me," he said.

De Los Santos pointed to the city's numerous trips to the country of China over the past three years, which carried a price tag of $144,577 for the city, as an example of frivolous expenditures.

"These are the things that they are spending money on unwisely," he said. "The mayor (Rodrigo Ramon Jr.) says they're bringing businesses to Robstown, but they haven't brought anything."

If elected, De Los Santos said he would work with the other members of the council to try and lower the utility rates in Robstown, as well as cut back on the number of overseas trips. The troubled economy, coupled with rising gas prices, makes these proposals a necessity, he added.

Promoting and attracting local businesses are essential to the city's future growth, De Los Santos said, but only if the city works with those businesses instead of against them.

"There are businesses that can be built here in Robstown, but the utilities are too expensive," he said.

It's the drive to help foster progress in his hometown, De Los Santos said, that gave him the desire to run.

"To me, the people of Robstown will always come first," he said.