Growing up in Corpus Christi, Aaron Franco often came to Victoria for baseball games with his family. He never thought one day he’d live here.
But not only does he live in Victoria now, he is also one of five candidates running to represent District 3 at City Council. Franco first ran against incumbent Jeff Bauknight during the May election. After winning reelection, however, Bauknight announced he would be running for mayor, forfeiting his seat on Council. A special election to fill the position will be held July 3.
Franco studied business at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, but always had a love for baseball. His first job was with the Corpus Christi Hooks, a minor league baseball team. He was eventually offered a job as the retail operations supervisor for the Houston Astros.
“That’s when I really learned what it meant to be a manager and what it meant to be responsible,” said Franco, crediting his career now as the financial center manager at Frost Bank to that time with the Astros.
Despite his love for baseball, he said his work with the Astros was demanding and not sustainable for him, and he eventually moved back to Corpus Christi.
He began working part-time at Frost Bank, and within a few years was promoted to manager and moved to Victoria to open their new branch here. He quickly fell in love with the city and the community in Victoria.
“I moved here in September 2019, and it’s probably been the best decision I could have made,” he said.
Why did you decide to run for City Council?
“In City Council if no one runs against an incumbent, they’re guaranteed their position again,” said Franco.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, he said, but his goal in running against Bauknight in May had been to both encourage people to get out and vote and show people that there are options.
“There was nothing against anybody that was running at the time,” said Franco. “It was just for the fact that we have an election, let’s actually get out and vote, so that when we have big elections, like a presidential election, we’re in that routine of voting already.”
If elected, what will you prioritize as a councilman?
As the youngest candidate, Franco thinks he offers a unique resource to the city with his ability to bridge the generational gap and advocate for the interests of the younger community.
He said he’d also like to address the issue of homelessness that he sees in the city, especially in District 3.
“I feel like it’s kind of just being pushed further and further down the road, but I feel like we need to address that now,” said Franco. “These are our neighbors. Whatever the reasons for it, we as a community should come together to try to help them and get them back on track, so that we as a whole are successful.”
How would you prioritize communicating with residents and receiving citizen input?
“I’ve said it a couple times through my first campaign, and this one, that we need to communicate with the citizens of Victoria,” said Franco.
He said he’d like to see the city do a better job informing citizens about what it’s doing and especially about why projects or other efforts are delayed.
“Sometimes you have to get out into the neighborhoods and really talk to people,” he said. “During the campaign time, people go out and knock on doors. And I think we should continue doing that after being elected.”
How do you think we should prioritize spending in next year’s budget?
“A mass majority of our general fund goes to our safety, which I think is a good thing. I think it benefits our community long term to have that type of funding,” said Franco.
He said he’d like to see a little more money go toward long term projects that benefit the community.
The city can’t be afraid to rethink things, he said. He said Boot Fest is an example of something that hasn’t always been successful and might need to change.
“We have to reevaluate things that aren’t successful and try to change them, otherwise we’re just going to be stagnant.”
The city of Victoria is set to receive $14.5 million through the American Rescue Plan. How would you like to see that stimulus money spent?
He said he still would like a better understanding of what the restrictions on the money are, but he’d like to see it used to benefit the community directly.
Getting community input on how they would like to see the money spent is also important to him.
“I think we need to do another survey. Ask the community what they want that money for and really listen to them instead of just making a decision that may not benefit anybody long term,” he said.