DOWNEY - Salvador Franco believes actions speak much louder than words. "I'm a person of actions," said Franco, 36. "I'm a person that will roll up my sleeves and get out there, speak highly of our city, and create a better Downey.
"I had a lot of people telling me you're a person that leads, who understands - I'm about getting things done. It's not about talking, it's about actions," he said.
With less than five weeks until Election Day, Franco's campaign is in high gear this week as the former Bell Gardens councilman endures a crowded race in order to secure the district 5 city-wide council seat being vacated by Councilman Luis Marquez this November.
Franco's opponents include attorney and community leader Alex Saab, former professional baseball player Gabriel Orozco, and attorney Ricardo Perez.
With political yard signs slowly popping up around town, Franco, a married father of four children, believes the community has been very receptive to his positive message.
This election cycle, Franco has already raised nearly $15,000 in contributions not including a self-loan made to his campaign earlier this year. "It's going great, the community will make the right choice because I have the right plan and I'll be the right choice," he said.
In a political mailer delivered to Downey homes last week, Franco lists several ambitious goals for his first term, including hiring additional police officers, advocating for better quality education, and creating hundreds of new businesses and private sector jobs.
Franco said the city must become more aggressive in its efforts to seek out new businesses for the community.
"We could attract 25 businesses a year," he said. "Just because they say 'no' once doesn't mean we have to stop there. We have to be bridge builders and invite economic growth to the community." Despite a nearly $11.5 million city deficit last year that resulted in layoffs and the retirement of a city fire engine, Franco says he will prioritize hiring more officers and use the tax revenues from new businesses to pay for the additions.
"Bringing new businesses, sales taxes to the community is going to help us hire new officers," he said. "But it's not just about me. There are four other council members working for the community...we have to work together to get things done."
In addition to Councilman Marquez, Franco has been endorsed by the Downey firefighters' union, which recommended the city consider disbanding the Downey Fire Department in favor of L.A. County fire service.
While Franco agrees the community should be informed of the matter, he would not say directly which fire service he would support.
"You have to look at all your options. I think the feasibility study was the smartest thing to do," said Franco. "The community has to get educated and vote if they want county or stick with city fire. I can't make that decision."
Franco, who was elected to the Bell Gardens City Council at age 24 in 2001, moved to Downey in 2006.
Like his father before him, Franco now owns South Gate-based GDS Institute vocational school, which trains students in a variety of subjects including nursing, auto mechanics, solar technologies, and computer technology.
In 2005, he narrowly lost his re-election bid in Bell Gardens and was subsequently fined $12,500 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission after failing to file two pre-election campaign statements, three late contribution reports, and a post-election semi-annual campaign statement.
"I did the reports, I just reported it late," said Franco who blames inexperience for the missteps. "I tried to do everything by myself. Now I've learned to get professional help and let them handle it."
Although soft-spoken and reserved, Franco is confident of his qualifications and maintains he will never back down from his responsibilities if elected to represent Downey residents.
"I am a proven leader, my actions have proven themselves," he said. "I'm the right choice with the right plan."
********** Published: October 4, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 25