Bell Election: Ali Saleh Likely to Seek Mayor's Seat
The ballots have barely been counted and already it looks like Bell City Council winner Ali Saleh will seek the mayor's job.
Ali Saleh: Bell's next mayor?
That could happen as early as late March, when, we're told, the first meeting of the new council is likely to take place.
Here's what Saleh told the Weekly when asked if he'll go for the mayor's gig:
"I haven't decided yet, but probably."
In political speak, that's ...
... as good as a "yes."
A majority of the new five-seat council will have to elect a new mayor at its first meeting, a city official told us.
With a 95 percent vote for a full recall of Bell's City Council, Saleh, Danny Harber, Ana Maria Quintana,Violeta Alvarez and Nestor Valencia are the new guys and girls.
That includes most of the slate, called United4Bell, that was in favor of keeping the Bell Police Department in tact. (It also got support from the local police union).
Saleh, Harber and Alvarez were part of that four-person slate.
Justice for Bell, the faction that wanted to disband the department in order to save the cash-strapped city an estimated $4 million a year appeared to lose out. The only member of that group who appeared to get his foot in the door was Valencia.
Asked if the police department stays, Saleh says, "That is correct."
Christina Garcia, spokeswoman for the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse (BASTA), said the election is "a referendum that the community wants to keep their police department."
Bell was rocked by scandal last summer after it was revealed that many of its top officials and most of its City Council was taking home exorbitant salaries.
City manager Robert Rizzo, assistant city manager Angela Spaccia, Mayor Oscar Hernandez, City Council members Luis Artiga, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal, and former City Council members George Cole and Victor Bello were hit with charges of misappropriating public funds.
"This is a historic day in the city and we're hoping we can all work together to rebuild."