Alba is Dripping Springs through and through

Santos Alba served 25 years on the City Council

By: 
Gary Zupancic

 

Dripping Springs was far different than today, back in 1941. That’s the year that former councilman Santos Alba made his appearance here. The only paved road was U.S. Highway 290 and Mercer Street was 290.

“Everything around was dirt roads,” Alba said. “When it iced you could not get out of Dripping.” Alba was the oldest among nine kids, which means he took care of his siblings.

As he grew older he was promoted in his duties to checking the fence lines.

“I’d pick up my rifle, cross ranches and meet the ranchers. When it would get late I’d come home. Now it’s property rights, they’ll sue.”

It was also different socially, where races did not mix. “They would hire you but don’t talk to their daughters.”

Going to school for Santos meant going to Zavala in Austin, then to the DSISD Administration Building, which at the time was the high school building. After graduation he worked construction, but his work interrupted when he was drafted three times. The first was told to go home in San Marcos. The second time was a little more interesting.

“I was in San Marcos and going to San Antonio. We got to San Antonio. Physical was passed, everything. They were loading us up (to go to an Army base) and the sergeant called my name. I get off and he follows me. My name was the only one called. I talked to people and they said go home. I said we had no phone at home. How do I get home? So they bussed me back to San Marcos.”

Finally the third time was the charm as he was drafted again and sent to Korea for 13 months. Upon his return, he decided to move to Chicago and worked for a security company and within 6 months was running it. The owner of the company was and ex-CIA agent and they protected large companies such as AT&T and Bell and Howell.

The locations of the companies were in bad areas of the city, controlled by gangs. After one incident, Alba informed his boss. “We’ll take care of you,” his boss said. In a few days the problem was solved, but he started getting more threats so he decided to move back to Dripping. He returned to construction, and worked steadily until he hurt his back and couldn’t work for four years, from 1984 to 1988. Finally a settlement was reached and the doctor released him.

He welcomed his return to work and became employed by DSISD, first in security, and when that department was eliminated, he moved to Maintenance. After 24 years and 4 months he retired.

As a City Councilman, his political career was an uphill battle; but he was methodical about it. “Before council, I made all the meetings: city council, PNZ, school board…and I was ready for the council position from day one. I was not a greenhorn.”

His election in 1992 meant that a Hispanic was finally elected to any government entity in Dripping Springs. “Usually if you’re in the history books it’s because you’re dead, but I’m still alive, I’m walking history,” Alba laughed.

Of the 25 years that he served on Dripping Springs City Council, there is one accomplishment that he is extremely proud of and that is the Dark Skies Ordinance.

“I did something good. The Night Sky was the best thing I’ve ever done. That was my baby, man.” The International Dark Sky Association gives six awards out to cities.

“Only six are given in the world, four overseas, two in the U.S. and the one in Dripping Springs is the only one in Texas.”

He is also proud of his work fighting for building codes for plumbing, electrical, business and residential although it took a while to get codes passed. He also is well pleased of his work with forming the first Master Plan for the city.

As for the future, Alba is still undecided on what he’d do next. “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

A big part of Dripping Springs for most of his life, Alba has watched it grow and has helped manage the problems that accompany the city’s growth. Serving from 1992 until this year, 25 years in all, he has left his imprint deep here.

 

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