Marquez: carpetbaggers not welcome

If Luis Marquez had the funding to purchase a commercial on TV airwaves, his slogan might go something like this: "A vote for Luis Marquez is a vote for local representation."It's catchy and, as Marquez will point out, true. Marquez, mayor pro tem for the city of Downey, is expending much of his time, energy and money on his campaign for state Assembly. He hopes to replace Hector De La Torre in the 50th District, a sprawling district that includes much of Southeast Los Angeles County, including southern portions of Downey. Election Day is Tuesday. Logic dictates that his main opponent is the deep-pocketed Ricardo Lara, an aspiring politician who counts among his supporters Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. What Villaraigosa has to do with issues concerning Southeastern Los Angeles County is anybody's guess. "We're up against a candidate who wants to join the political club," Marquez said in an interview at his South Gate campaign office. "This is the worst thing that can happen to this district. We're independent cities, we have our own issues. We need local representation." Marquez has taken a month off from work to focus on his campaign. He spends much of his time speaking to the voters he meets while walking the neighborhoods of Downey, South Gate, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, Lynwood, Cudahy, Commerce and Bell. "We've left no stone unturned," Marquez said of his campaign supporters, which numbers more than 100. "Support has been awesome not just from Downey, but from local cities. It's been a total grassroots effort and we're feeling very confident." A win for Marquez Tuesday won't be easy. Lara has easily raised more than half a million dollars, and has used the money to send more than a dozen pieces of campaign literature to voters. A lawsuit earlier this year prompted Lara, a legislative aide, to change his job title on the ballot from "consumer affairs commissioner" to "communications director." Another candidate, Carmen Avalos, is primarily funded by a Sacramento-based lobbying firm, Marquez said. Marquez claims he hasn't collected as much money as his opponents, but all of it was locally raised. "We don't have any special interests backing us," Marquez said. "So it won't be a problem if - when - we're elected." Marquez maintained that his campaign has not affected his duties as a Downey city council member. He has only missed a single council meeting since he was elected one year ago, and that was because he was in Sacramento testifying on behalf of Downey as part of the Tesla Motors deal. When Councilman Mario Guerra stepped down as mayor last year, Marquez became Downey's lead representative in dealings with Tesla. And while a deal with the electric car maker never materialized, Marquez said the city was aggressive in trying to bring jobs to the local area. He said he will bring that pro-activeness to his region, if elected. "If we had to do it all over again with Tesla, I wouldn't change a thing," Marquez said. "The No. 1 issue facing this region is lack of jobs. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. We need to be aggressive in creating jobs for the residents here." Marquez's list of endorsements is too long to list, but his most prominent supporters include the California Teachers Association and De La Torre, the man he's trying to replace. But ultimately, Marquez said it's his local roots and support of the region he hopes will resonate with voters. "The main goal here is to make government work for residents of this district," he said. "We need a local candidate working for us in Sacramento, someone who understands the issues we face. I'm that person."

********** Published: June 4, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 7