FORMER BELL LEADER, DOWNEY COUNCIL HOPEFUL SPEAKS SOFTLY AND WEARS A THICK SKINBy Ben Baeder
DOWNEY — Salvador Franco knows politics are politics. It’s a lesson he learned when he served on the City Council in Bell Gardens, a city with notoriously rough politics known for its nearly constant recall campaigns.
So he’s not surprised when he hears insults come his way from people in Downey who say he’s a carpetbagger or gratifying his own self interest. Franco is running for the at-large Downey City Council seat against attorney and real estate broker Alex Saab, former professional baseball player Gabriel Orozco and attorney Ricardo Perez.
The election is Nov. 6, and the seat is held by Councilman Luis Marquez, who is running in District 1 in the southeast part of the city.
Growing up, Franco moved from Santa Monica to Durango, Mexico to Culver City to Bell Gardens before he married and finally landed in Downey 6 years ago.
He thinks he’s done moving.
“I feel Downey is a safe place,” said the 36-year-old father of two little boys. “I really like it. I would stay here forever. I told my wife I want this to be our home.”
Franco cut his political teeth in Bell Gardens, where he won a City Council seat in 2001 and lost a re-election bid four years later by just 13 votes.
In 2010 Franco was fined by $12,500 for failing to file several campaign finance statements for the 2005 election.
“I made mistakes,” he said. “Back then, I did all the books myself. I’ve learned my lesson and I’ve got a professional handling things this time.”
In Downey, Franco is being backed by the city’s firefighters, who want the City Council to consider disbanding the Downey Fire Department and contracting fire service from the county.
Franco declined to weigh in on the issue other than to say a good City Council member has to look at the data and vote with his head, not his heart.