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"5 Questions" is an occasional feature in which we ask five questions of Downey business and community leaders. This week's participant is Mayor Mario Guerra.
1.) Since becoming mayor last December, you have lost 75 pounds, leading your "Healthy Downey" initiative by example. Is losing weight the hardest thing you have ever done?
Losing weight has been the easiest part of my life changes. The weight started coming off once I made the decision to do something about my physical challenges. Educating myself, learning how to eat better, exercise and physical activity were all personal challenges that I had to overcome.
The end results of feeling better, being able to go off medication and of course losing weight are all great benefits from living a healthier lifestyle. It really has been a mental challenge to do what I knew to be right, for my family, for our community and for me personally. And bottom line, yes, this has been an obstacle in my life that I am happy to have overcome. I have had a lot of pain in my life that faith and determination have helped me with, but this was mentally very tough.
It has been hard but if I can do it I know others can.
2.) 2.) Has riding your bicycle around the city altered your perspective on certain issues in Downey?
Absolutely. Both riding my bike and walking around town. It gives you a new sense of issues. It also highlights positive results.
I have been able to see where we can make our city safer, better looking and improve quality for all of us. I have seen where potholes are, where graffiti springs up and where we can improve both the visual aspects of our city. A different perspective. The most important thing I've seen is being able to see where to improve safety for everyone and not just from a biking perspective. I encourage others to do the same.
I'm happy to say that this Friday our entire City Council is literally getting on the bus and driving around with staff to see, plan and discuss our community. It is an agendized meeting so I encourage the public to join us. It really does give you a different viewpoint.
3.) 3.) You freely distribute your personal cell phone number and encourage residents to contact you directly. Have you ever regretted that?
While there have been a few unwelcomed calls I feel the positives have far outweighed the few who I thought were inappropriate.
I truly believe in transparency. I truly believe that we are here to serve. I truly believe that accessibility is important and residents need to know how and where to get hold of me.
The vast majority have respected certain boundaries of decency and I have been able to serve and get things done by phone calls many times. I am happy to talk about our city with any resident, anytime...My cell number is (562) 706-4114 and I welcome your calls.
4.) 4.) Are there any projects or initiatives you are anxious to complete before you are termed out of office next year?
I have a full agenda and there are many things we need to complete. I promise to be working full steam until my very last moment on the council.
One of the biggest developments in California is The Promenade At Downey. It is very important that the details are finalized from an economic, historical, jobs and quality of life perspective for our residents. I am very involved with this project and we as a council are pushing very hard to finish this vital project.
Finalizing improvements to our parks and building walking trails at Furman and Apollo Park is something I want to and will finish. Branding, enhancing our arts and beautification of our City through such things like painting our power boxes, signage and street enhancements is important for me to finish. The Firestone Boulevard Downtown corridor is vital to our future and jobs. It will be amazing. Finalizing three other developments is exciting and important to finish next year.
But something that we are working very hard on is the completion of building the community center that will house Inspiration and the programing that is needed to sustain the Columbia Space Learning Center. We must do this right to be able to have this amazing jewel for our next generations.
Our Master Bike Plan and Healthy Downey are near to my heart and will get big focuses of my attention. There are several other things that we are working on and I am excited to help finish them within the next year.
5.) Your next town hall meeting is this Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 6:30 p.m. inside the senior center. Can you give us a sneak preview of what you will be discussing?
I will be discussing our Police Department and our Fire Departments and the fine job they do and what our future holds from a public safety perspective. I will be discussing new developments, and let us in on a few exciting businesses that will be coming into our City. I will share of the names of new stores that are coming and want to find homes in our community. I will share our finances and where we stand, and what can we expect. I will update us about the largest shopping development west of the Mississippi. When, what and where. I will let you know what our pedestrian village will look like and what theatres will be coming. I will update us on streets that are to be repaved and enhanced. I will discuss where we are on our Downtown and what we can expect. I will share pictures of what our new Inspiration Community Center will look like and our vision for programing and viewing of our shuttle Inspiration.
And just as importantly, I want to hear the thoughts, ideas or concerns form our residents.
Published: Oct. 10, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 26