Bell city residents remember candidate Miguel Sanchez as soft-spoken, strong

People in Bell are remembering City Council candidate Miguel Sanchez. The 34-year-old activist and special ed teacher’s aide died Friday. His relatives say Sanchez suffered from flu-like symptoms.

Sanchez was running in Bell’s general and special recall election to fill the City Council seat of Luis Artiga who resigned last fall. With several current and former Bell officials, Artiga awaits a trial on public corruption charges.

Sanchez’s campaign video recently played to a packed election forum. “I have lived in this community for over three decades and I am running for office because I bring a new perspective to this race. I will bring about reforms and make hard decisions that will produce results.”

If voters elected him, Sanchez said in the video, he planned to propose a city commission to review the budget, lower taxes and reform Bell's police department.

During a break at the preliminary hearing for several top-ranking public servants facing criminal charges, Donna Gannon of Bell fought back tears as she talked about Sanchez. She described him as a soft-spoken advocate who’d joined her protests against former City Council members last year, and had later celebrated with her after authorities arrested eight Bell officials.

“We were dancing and having a good time with all the other citizens and he was there from the very beginning. And him and his mother... She’s the one that comes to court with me... And he was just a good honest young man. And it’s very sad.”

Sanchez’s name will remain on tomorrow’s ballot. If he wins, Los Angeles County may appoint a replacement or the city of Bell could call a special election.