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DOWNEY - By a margin of more than 9,000 votes, local attorney and community leader Alex Saab was overwhelming selected to assume the role as Downey's newest councilman on Tuesday.
Saab graciously thanked the community on Wednesday, pledging to work hard for the residents of Downey over the next four years.
"I'm humbled and honored the citizens have elected me," he said. "I take this very seriously and I appreciate the confidence of the community. Every action I take will be in the best interests of all residents."
The race in District 5 likely became the most tumultuous this year with four candidates vying to replace Councilman Luis Marquez, who decided to vacate his District 5 city-wide seat in order to seek reelection in District 1.
In addition to Saab, the contenders included former professional baseball player Gabriel Orozco, former Bell Gardens Councilman Salvador Franco, and attorney-at-law Ricardo Perez, who did no public campaigning.
Saab easily outpaced his opponents by earning 56.4 percent of the vote, collecting 13,626 votes. Franco, who many believed to be Saab's greatest challenger, ended up with 4,289 votes, 17.7 percent of the vote, followed by Orozco who fell behind with 3,635 votes, just 15.07 percent of the vote.
Without any campaigning, Perez still managed to garner 2,569 votes, 10.6 percent of the vote.
"We tried our best and ran our campaign. I felt good about it, but the community wanted something different," said Franco. "I want to congratulate Alex Saab and I hope he does the best for the community."
After a decisive victory over his competitors on Tuesday, Saab believes voters supported his campaign's positive message.
"This shows that residents share the same values of family, ethics, and integrity that our campaign was sharing with the community," said Saab who laid out a few of his priorities upon taking office.
"Clearly we need to work at improving our budget, our public safety, and we should continue the path of building our downtown through business and arts and culture."
Saab, 37, is a married father of one 4-year-old son and a lifelong Downey resident with law offices in the city. He is currently president-elect of the Downey Chamber of Commerce.
In one of the closest City Council elections in years, Councilman Luis Marquez narrowly defeated Michael Murray in District 1. Marquez's 2,152 votes were just enough to edge out his opponent who earned 2,055 votes.
Marquez will serve a second four-year term on the city council.
District 1, which covers southeast Downey, was a competitive race from the start with three candidates hoping to replace Mayor Pro Tem David Gafin, who will be termed out of office this year.
Longtime resident and active community leader Mark Vasquez faced off against Marquez and Murray, a Downey planning commissioner and owner of Downey Used Cars on Lakewood Boulevard.
Vasquez collected 581 votes, 12.13 percent of the vote.
"There are still votes to be counted, but we're very confident that the lead will hold up and that we will prevail," said Marquez. "I'm extremely honored to have another four years to help move this city forward."
Marquez thanked his family, friends, and neighbors who helped him campaign his way to a slim margin of victory.
"And I want to congratulate Mr. Mike Murray for a professional campaign. We were both out there talking to voters, it was a very good campaign and I want to thank him publicly," Marquez said.
Murray said he's not bitter over the close results, but is pleased that he was able to capture the votes that he did.
"I did the best that I could, I'm not a professional politician," he said. "I should have done more, pushed a little harder, but I'm a positive person. We ran a clean campaign and I want to thank the people that voted. I grew up in Downey - I care about this city. I just want to give back."
In a second term, Marquez said his focus will turn towards modernizing Downey's parks, tackling fiscal issues, preserving the city's police and fire departments, and continuing the highest level of services for the community.
"I plan on working closely with my council colleagues to move the city forward," said Marquez.
Mayor Roger Brossmer who ran unopposed for his District 3 (northwest) seat, cruised to reelection on Tuesday receiving 5,149 votes from his constituents.
Last week, Brossmer praised the community and pledged to continue his public service with residents in mind.
"I was honored to serve the last four years and I want the residents to know that I look forward to four more years," Brossmer said. "I want to continue to really keep an eye on the budget. We were able to close the gap this year, but that deficit's not going away. I also want to bring in more businesses and jobs for our city so they'll be no more cuts in the future."
Brossmer will be termed out of office in 2016.
Downey residents also voted heavily in favor of Measure D on Tuesday.
Placed on the ballot by the city council, Measure D will update the city's existing utility users tax so it can be applied equally to both older telephone technology and newer telecommunications technologies.
Measure D, which was approved by 79.37 percent of the voters, will also decrease the telephone utility tax from 5 to 4.8 percent. The electricity and gas utility tax, however, will remain at the current rate of 5 percent.
The current telephone utility tax applies only to cell phones, local and long-distance calls on landlines, but under Measure D all intrastate, interstate and international communications, regardless of the technology used, will be subject to taxation.
That includes everything from fiber optic lines to Internet services like Skype, and other telecommunications modes. It would not apply to digital downloads such as games, ringtones, and music.
Published: November 8, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 30