COUNCIL CANDIDATE Joe Franklin: protecting those Manhattan Beach moments
by Mark McDermott
Joe Franklin has been known to take to the streets. Or at least the sidewalks.
Franklin’s sense of civic activism led him to organize a rally in late May, outside the Manhattan Beach Public Library, urging small businesses to be allowed to reopen. And then, less than two weeks later, Franklin could be found at a very different protest — a Black Lives Matter protest at the Manhattan Pier the week after the killing of George Floyd — carrying a sign that read, “Find the courage to fight racism.”
“I was the only gray haired guy there,” Franklin said. “I mean, it’s what I taught my kids, right? When you see a bully, you have to step forward…. That’s what we have to do as a nation, right?”
Franklin is one of seven candidates vying for three seats on the City Council in the November 3 election. He ran the first time for council just last year, finishing a close third behind Suzanne Hadley and Hildy Stern, who were elected. He is a 36-year Manhattan Beach resident who was born in Long Island, spent a year in Mexico as a 10-year-old, and spent his teenage years in Arizona. He has an abiding love for his adopted hometown. “I still pinch myself every day,” he said.
It is this sense of gratitude that has spurred Franklin’s two runs for council. He describes Manhattan Beach as his “perfect spot” and says its a feeling that pervades the community, one that he wants to protect.
“I call it these ‘Manhattan Beach moments,’” said Franklin, who spent most of his working life in sales and is now a real estate investment adviser. “We all have our Manhattan Beach moments. I go around and meet people and ask, what was yours? ‘I came here one winter from Chicago.’ ‘I came here because I had to take care of my mom,’ or ‘I came here because of a friend of mine.’ And everybody falls in love with Manhattan Beach. And if we’re not careful, we’re not going to have those moments.”
His agenda begins with fully funding police and fire.
“I’m a staunch supporter of public safety. They are our first responders,” Franklin said. “We are blessed to have them, and public safety is my top priority.”
Franklin believes Manhattan Beach is increasingly becoming a national and international destination, something that will only increase when the 2028 Olympics come to Los Angeles and with the presence of two NFL football teams in nearby Inglewood.
“People will all come out here. They are no dummies. They are going to spend time here,” Franklin said. “So that’s great and that’s not necessarily a challenge for police, but it can attract a criminal element because they know there are a lot of tourists here. We need a really strong police force.”
Another priority is to help businesses survive the Covid crisis.
“I was out there and this, I think, distinguishes me from some of the candidates, certainly the non-incumbent candidates,” Franklin said. “I started that pro-business, pro-opening rally because these store owners and restaurants, they are our friends, they are part of our town, and they were just hurting so badly. And I didn’t really see the council pushing that hard against the County, right? When they come out with these platitudes, like, ‘We’re all in this together” — no, we’re not all in this together; the restaurant people, they’re selling their homes, they’re turning in retirement plans to keep their properties running, they’re taking out second mortgages.”
Franklin said that while he doesn’t solely credit the rally with subsequent loosening of restrictions that enabled restaurants to open Memorial Day weekend, he does believe there’s a larger point — that the council needs to have the city’s small businesses’ back.
“By staging that rally, being proactive and having everybody show up, that really helped push the council to find a way,” Franklin said. “There’s always wiggle room. But you don’t always have the will to find that wiggle room. I just find that way to make things happen.”
Another priority is to push back against what Franklin calls “Sacramento overreach,” legislation intended to address the state’s housing shortage by increasing housing density, that overrides local zoning laws.
“These laws and propositions that are coming down from Sacramento are going to destroy the suburbs,” Franklin said. “We are a suburb. It’s going to destroy the single family residence life as we know it.”
Franklin said he recognizes that a city councilperson is limited in his or her ability to impact state legislation, but like his pro-business rally, making an effort sometimes bears unexpected fruit.
“I can get on an airplane and go up to Sacramento and walk the halls and start talking to people,” he said. “A lot of times you say, ‘Well, we can’t push back at state laws. If I had that attitude, I would not have put on that rally. So you can do it. You can make a difference.” ER
by Jen Ezpeleta