Mariela Salgado may not have the big name endorsements like some candidates, but she says she has something better—endorsements from the residents of the 1st District.

A small business owner and mother of two, Salgado, 36, said she’s long been passionate about civic engagement. She currently serves on the Parks and Recreation commission, where she works to address the lack of green space in her district, and also serves as a parent volunteer at Edison Elementary School.

Her priority, she said, is addressing the disparities in Long Beach, from education to safety and housing affordability. To put it simply, Salgado said she sees herself as the people’s candidate.

“I’ve always been of service to my community and here in Long Beach I’m finding myself getting more and more involved,” she said. “It’s really important that we have a representative who knows the neighborhood and is looking to champion the 1st District, and that’s why I feel like I’m a formidable opponent. There’s no one more invested in this district than me.”

Salgado said her early life experiences mirror that of many 1st District residents. Born in Mexico and raised in West Los Angeles, Salgado was an undocumented student who luckily won a Los Angeles Unified School District lottery to attend a better school outside of her neighborhood. She later earned a scholarship to Pepperdine University, where she went on to receive her bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration.

Education, especially investing in early childhood education, is key to her platform. Salgado said she’d like to see the city invest in more youth and early childhood education programs, which in turn can help reduce violence rates.

“What changed my life was educational attainment,” she said. “When we give kids opportunities to look at the world differently they will do better, and right now in this district we don’t have the same opportunities.”

Another key platform issue is also one of the biggest issues in the city—housing affordability. Salgado said the 1st District has been the hardest hit with rent increases and displacement of longtime residents. While she doesn’t support outright rent control, she would support a moratorium on rent increases until the city can come up with better solutions.

Salgado said she’d like to see more affordable housing in Long Beach and new programs that can assist with loans or down payments to improve the pathway to homeownership. Leaders from all corners of the city should be involved, she added.

“This is a citywide issue and it has to be a citywide solution, and right now, we’re not solving it,” she said.

As the owner of a local floor cleaning business, Salgado would also work to provide more support for small business owners. From Pine Avenue to the Anaheim Corridor, Salgado said lots of small businesses in the city are struggling. The City Council, she said, would benefit from having a small business owner who understands the challenges.

Salgado said she’s proud of the fact that her campaign is grassroots and community funded, with no donations from special interest groups. As of Sept. 26, she’d raised more than $13,000 for her campaign mostly through individual contributions.

As of now, she has no plans for higher office.

“This is not a springboard for me,” she said.

Supporters, like Jim Danno, who serves on the Willmore City Heritage Association, say they admire Salgado’s dedication to her district.

Danno recalled a time when Edison Elementary was having problems and Salgado met with the school board day and night to get the issues resolved. When Hoonigan Industries moved into the neighborhood and started causing air pollution next to the school, Salgado was a vocal critic before the Planning Commission and City Council, he said.

“That’s the kind of dedication and passion she has for correcting the imbalances in an underserved community,” he said. “And she’ll take that energy and commitment with her when she becomes councilwoman.”

Salgado said she may not be the “City Hall-picked candidate,” but in some cases, that can be a good thing. She said she wants to work to restore transparency and public trust to the City Council by engaging communities that have long felt neglected.

If elected, Salgado said she would work harder to improve civic engagement in disenfranchised communities.

“I hope people can see what candidate is really invested in the future of Long Beach,” she said. “I truly want to serve the people of this city.”