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Friday, June 23, 2006

Ex-FBI agent wins mayoral post

BY MIKE McILVAIN

Raul Salinas was a very tired new mayor-elect on Sunday, June 18, talking, shouting thanks occasionally to well-wishers and dealing with media the day after his first political campaign turned out to be a winner.

Salinas, a retired FBI agent, pointed to the platform listed on his Web site as the phones kept ringing, hands kept pumping and backs were slapped.
“I am physically exhausted,” Salinas, 56, said.

Salinas had planned to take a few days off after the June 17 run-off election, but quick construction of political bridges and doorways wasn't letting him think much about a little escape before rolling up his sleeves and getting down to work.

Salinas tallied 1,008 more votes than city councilman John Galo, 9,665-8,657, in the decisive run-off.
Galo, 47, was also planning a quick break, telling LareDOS on the Friday before the election that he would be out of town on Monday. On Sunday both former candidates' cell phone mailboxes were full, but Galo wasn't returning pages.

“It was a long and hard campaign,” Salinas said.

Salinas, who has never held political office, entered the what was originally a five-man race with the hopes and ambitions of making Laredo a better place to live and work, much as Galo said on his Web site, too, but Salinas appeared to be the more visible of the two, constantly showing up at public events but often low-keying his hand-shaking, trying to avoid being too familiar.

Salinas can't take any official action until after city hall certifies the election and he is sworn in, but he is laying the foundation, meeting with county judge-elect Danny Valdez on issues, seeking to avoid duplication of services and save money.

“We are on the same page,” Salinas said.

Salinas has a checklist of priorities, most of which are visible on his Web site at www.raulsalinas.com. Salinas aims to improve the water system situation; public safety; bring in the automobile industry; deal with high-tax appraisals; improve recreation and entertainment; establish a civil service commission for all city employees; respect green space and the environment; stop city hall credit card abuse and nepotism as well as work better with local schools and colleges.

“Jobs, quality of life and infrastructure is key. There's a lot,” Salinas said. “We want to address the public relations image of the city. It's important because we want to be attractive for industry.”

Meeting Nuevo Laredo Mayor Daniel Pena, and other officials in Mexico, was also on Salinas' early priority list.

He also wants to see about getting a rehabilitation center built closer to home for parents who have had to drive troubled children to San Antonio or Houston for help.
Salinas acknowledges having plenty of help to win the election and says now it's his turn to make good on the campaign's goals.

“I am a good listener and I'm not for special interests,” he said. “I have contacts with people in Washington and in Congress and I want to make sure they give us any money we are due, but I want to see about some extra money, too.”

Salinas noted the campaign help of aunt Carmen Salinas, the same one familiar through numerous Mexican movies and singer Ramon Ayala appearing free of charge and the numerous donations, but says his campaign wasn't about the money.

“I had trouble getting into radio and into the FBI. There were barriers, being Hispanic, but we've crossed them,” Salinas said.

Salinas says he appreciated Galo and his wife having the class to congratulate him on his victory at campaign headquarters on Saturday night,

“Now it's time to forgive and get to work,” Salinas said.

Salinas grew up in Alice where he worked in local radio and newspaper before deciding on a law enforcement career, which began in Washington, D.C. as a Capitol policeman before eventually qualifying for the FBI. Salinas moved to Laredo in 1988 and kept it as his U.S. home when based in Mexico City.

Note: This story stems from a very similar store in LareDOS, a monthly publication worth picking up if in Laredo, or you can probably have a copy mailed to you.

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