Mariela Salgado, 36, is a small business owner who has lived in Long Beach and District 1 since 2010. She is a registered Democrat.
Read the Post’s profile on Mariela Salgado here.
Why did you decide to run?
I am the candidate who is the most invested in the city. For me it was a conversation personally about where I come from. There are a lot of inequities across the district, our nation and the world. Those inequities started getting me involved. For instance, on the topic of recreational opportunities: I was always going to East Long Beach for opportunities. Where I come from there were always inequities, and how I’m revisiting that all over again with my kids. I’m a big advocate of park equity; I was on the parks commission, and served as a school site council member. I believe very strongly that representation matters. I’ve been of service to my community wherever I live for 20 years. I think it’s really important that the 1st District has somebody who’s been of service to the community.
The 1st District has some of the highest rates of violence among the city, including shootings. What solutions do you have to reduce gun violence? And does that include increasing the number of police officers?
My personal experience has come into play here. What changed my life was educational attainment. Yes, we need to find ways to fund things like gun buyback programs, and an anti-gang unit. There’s graffitti constantly happening between gangs in the district. When somebody is released from prison, activity seems to rise. We need more specialized units. On the other side, where we should be doing more is in early education and prevention. When we give kids opportunities to look at the world differently, they will do better. District 1 has the lowest number of parks per resident. We need more recreational activities, more programming in parks. We don’t do enough for early education, particularly for kids of color. We need more youth programming, more youth workforce development; we need to invest in organizations that are doing the work. On adding more police: I’d have to look at that more, but I feel we could do more with less. My concern as it is we have all these unfunded pension liabilities when we should shift priorities and invest in education and prevention.
What type of solutions would you propose or support to provide more affordable housing? Is rent control part of your plan?
Rent control is not part of my plan. Economists say it doesn’t work. It works for the initial renter, but not so much for those in the future—and it usually keeps people in the same home. There has to be a covenant between property owner and renter, as these properties sometimes aren’t maintained. I am disappointed that the City Council will vote on an inclusionary housing law before the 1st District candidate is sworn in; 85% of development is in the 1st District, and most of it was luxury rentals. … Another issue is land dedication: Are we finding ways to find land to use and leverage so that we can lower the cost of development? We need a mix between new development and incentivizing and reducing costs for new businesses. And, building affordable housing. There has been no new housing for moderate-income earners. We need to ensure that we build for all types of income. Housing is a citywide issue there has to be a citywide solution. The 1st District can’t solve it.
How would you address the homelessness crisis in the District, including the issues associated with homelessness like mental illness and addiction?
One of the data points we got from the recent homelessness survey was that half of those who are homeless were experiencing homelessness for the first time. The longer they are in the streets, the more likely they’ll stay there. As a concerned citizen, we need to do more to house and shelter those folks that are being displaced and provide them with opportunities and give them training and economic opportunities. The Section 8 voucher isn’t going to help. After a year they’re displaced again. We need programs in place that have actually worked and make sure they are funded appropriately. Mental health is different population—incarcerating them isn’t working. We should look to private-public partnerships. I am also looking for accountability—are we putting in resources where they are really giving us impact? There’s something happening and we can’t seem to get a handle on it; we need the political will to do the things that are necessary.
What is your plan for improving air quality in Long Beach? Do you support the expansion of the 710 Freeway and the use of MHF in nearby refineries?
I don’t support expansion of the 710 Freeway. The Drake Chavez Master Plan (which calls for a 57-acre greenbelt along the lower Los Angeles River) was started 20 years ago. Why hasn’t this been a priority? That should have been a priority for a neighborhood like this. What are we doing to support the neighborhoods? How do we empower the city to do the work so that we have more green space and better air quality? What are we doing as a city—are we allocating any funds to invest in renewable energy? The port is a major resource to the city; so how are we working with them to ensure that we hit our targets with zero emissions? On the use of MHF, I probably would not support that.
What have you personally contributed to District 1?
I’ve spent hundreds of hours working in the community. My husband says if you want to know someone, look at what they do with their free time: You’ll see me and my kids in the neighborhood doing work. I served on the early childhood education committee, the Chamber of Commerce, the Parks Commission, the CVB. As someone who is educated with work experience, I take a seat wherever possible and have a conversation. I find a way to move the work forward; I am constantly looking for ways to better our city and community. I really believe in being of service—serving the people.
Who is funding or endorsing your campaign?
The people, the neighborhoods, the influencers, people who are doing the work. I am completely funded by community members and small businesses. I will have an independent voice to support constituents.
Do you have plans for higher office?
I have no plans; this is not a springboard for me. This run for City Council was not in the plans, but I felt it was necessary.