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Dear Downey Family and Friends,
Hope this message finds you well, in good health and good spirit. I am excited to share some of the many great things that have happened in the last few weeks.
Our great City, along with nine other communities across the nation, won the 2013 All America City award! Known as the "Nobel Prize" for civic engagement, the All America City award recognizes top cities across the country who turn challenges into opportunities and work hard to improve and better the quality of life for their residents.
There were only 20 finalists in the entire country and we were the only city from California selected. I am proud to represent a city like Downey, a city that is committed to its residents and that is made up of a unique group of individuals who work to make Downey such a great place to live.
My sincere appreciation goes out to the staff and volunteers who participated in making this happen. We were recognized because we all work hard in making Downey the special place we call home. And now the rest of the country will know it too. This is great in many ways, from economic development, national branding and civic pride.
Our All America City delegation, known as "Team Downey," did an amazing job in making sure the City of Downey was noticed. This award demonstrates how Downey is a city with character, where Character Counts and where great things happen.
We were recognized for our veteran programs, the revitalization of Downtown Downey and our Columbia Memorial Space Center. Let's continue to celebrate this amazing recognition and let others know that Downey is and will continue to be a special place. We mentioned our low crime, low unemployment, Healthy Downey initiative, our fine DUSD, our great police and fire departments and our service groups. What a great city we have.
Last month, I had the honor and privilege of signing a Sister City agreement with Taughmaconnell, Roscommon, Ireland, the birthplace of our city's founding father, Governor John Gately Downey. It was such an amazing experience to represent the City of Downey and meet such an extraordinary group of people. From Mayor of Roscommon, Mr. Tom Crosby, along with other Roscommon officials, to Senator Terry Leyden who serves in Parliament representing Roscommon, they all were excited about our mutual history. It is a historic event for our city in many ways. Downey has a rich history of Sister Cities.
In 1957 when President Eisenhower declared that our country should reach out to others from an economic, cultural and mutual exchange of ideas, it was historic. In 1960 when Downey and the City of Guadalajara became the first Sister Cities in the history of the United States, it was historic. When Governor John Gately Downey left Ireland at age 14 and became the first foreign born Governor of California at age 32, it was historic.
We continue to be a leader in so many ways. And I am so proud of our history, and making new history for many generations. Progress occurs when we come together for a common good and seize the opportunity to change things for the better. We need to continue, just like our forefathers, just like Governor Downey, to have the vision and conviction to dream and inspire, and the energy and passion to make things happen.
We are proud to have Roscommon as our newest Sister City and look forward to maintaining a long lasting relationship. We are already seeing unexpected early dividends from our newest Sister City. In the last week, we have been working hard with our local art gallery, Stay Gallery Downey, for a delegation of Roscommon artists to display their artwork in Downey next year. The arrangements are not final yet, but hopefully they will arrive next June or July. They will of course be staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants, spending their money in Downey and providing a great cultural exchange that we were hoping for.
Two weeks ago, we approved yet another balanced city budget for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 totaling just over $140 million. The budget included the hiring of police officers to make up for attrition, nine additional new fire personnel, new Public Safety equipment, $35 million in Capital Improvements ($20.5 million for street improvements), and various improvements to city parks, library and the theatre.
Our financial indicators are all good and we expect our future to continue to be bright. Our unemployment numbers are 7.4 %, which is the lowest among the 26 Gateway Cities with a working population of over 50,000. It is lower than the U.S., state and county. Sales taxes are up 11%, which means people are shopping in our city and property taxes are up 7%, which means that our homes continue to add value to our community. Crime statistics are down 5% again YTD. We thank our fine police department for all they do.
I attended and spoke to our nine new firemen at their badge pinning last week. I was able to let them know how proud our city is of the fine job done by our Downey Fire Department under the leadership of Chief Lonnie Croom. I was able to let them know that they were joining one of the best and elite fire departments in the State. Thank you Downey Fire Department for taking care of our city. We are very blessed and proud to have our own Downey Fire Department.
Summer is officially here and with that comes a variety of fun city activities. The Twilight Summer Concert series kicks-off next Wednesday, July 3rd at Furman Park. Don't miss out on a great musical line-up this season. I will be there every Wednesday beginning at 6 pm for my "Walking Wednesdays" which will take place there at Furman, instead of Downey High. Get there early and walk with me as we continue our path to a Healthy Downey. Thanks to our Healthy Downey partners for all you are doing in changing our community on a path to healthier and better living.
Speaking of Furman Park, help our city win a $100,000 Coca-Cola grant by voting Furman America's favorite park! The contest ends July 15th and there are several ways to make your vote count. Visit www.coke.com/parks to cast your vote online, check-in at www.foursquare.com or get 10 votes per day by logging 20 minutes of activity with Map My Fitness. Help us win big this summer!
Finally, I wanted to let you know that progress continues in many ways in Downey. This past Tuesday, our Council, working together with our fine staff, passed an aggressive and progressive Economic Development Ordinance that will help us attract and retain new businesses, that will continue to provide more jobs. We passed a Master Parks Plan that sets us on a course to improve and update our parks and a Civic Center Master Plan that sets us on a course to utilizing all our resources in making our Downtown Civic Center a gathering and effective place for our residents. And stay tuned, our Master Bike Plan is in the works...Future Unlimited, you bet. We are and should be very proud of our special community.
Thank you all for being my neighbors. Feel free to call me anytime on my cell at (562) 706-4114 or email me at City Hall at Mguerra@DowneyCa.org. All my best, God bless.
Dn. Mario A. Guerra
Published: June 27, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 11