It has been an incredible honor to represent our families and businesses as Mayor of the City of Downey. Together, we had an incredible year and were able to accomplish so much as a community. We have furthered the momentum of our great City and continued to pave the way for a promising future as a community and as one large Downey family.
2016 was particularly special because we celebrated our City’s 60th anniversary of incorporation and thus we were able to reflect about our City and plan ahead for the next 60 years. Exactly 60 years ago, a group of civic minded visionaries succeeded on a narrow vote to incorporate an area of Los Angeles County with the hopes of creating a city less dependant on the county and to be able to control our own destiny. From this idea and vision, Downey was born.
The population of Downey was much smaller then and there were different kinds of challenges. However, the goals and values of our city remain the same now as they did then. We continue to demand that our local government never becomes stale, that we provide a safe environment for our family’s, and that City Hall works hard to provide the best quality service for our residents and businesses.
Being Mayor has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life. Working at the local level, I am appreciative and mindful that the decisions we make have a quick and deliberate effect on our very neighborhoods. With that comes great responsibility. Given the opportunity to address real community issues and to help shape our city’s future is an awesome experience. As an elected official, one is often scrutinized for decisions and policies, but one of the things I am most proud of and can assure you is that I have never lost focus of my ethics and the main goal of why I ran for office; to make Downey a better place for my family and for yours.
I am proud of the many accomplishments in Downey this year. We initiated a bio-medical planning assessment to facilitate the growth of Downey’s existing medical industry in order to attract medical related jobs. One of the solutions to growing our local economy is to continue to be a medical hub in our region. We saw the completion of the incredible Knabe Wellness Center and the $414 million project at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital. After over 25 years, we are finally seeing some activity and planning at the Rancho South Campus on Imperial Highway. Thanks to much hard work, we proudly secured funding and dedicated space to create a new park at the South Rancho property to better serve our residents.
I am also very grateful that the Council supported my proposal that all Downey students be admitted free year-round to the Columbia Memorial Space Center. This has resulted in over a 30% increase in visitors and, most importantly, greater exposure of our youth to the sciences.
We brought back the Special Olympics sports program at Apollo Park and hope to continue to expand this to better serve those residents that need us the most. The Downey Theatre underwent a much needed facelift in anticipation of the 60th Anniversary Gala Celebration in August. A packed house celebrated all things Downey including a Karen Carpenter tribute.
We saw the greatest amount of street upgrades in more than 50 years. Projects on Firestone, Lakewood, Telegraph and Gardendale and others were all completed, some of which include new bike lanes. Orange Estates was officially dedicated this year with new unique signage and a renewed sense of pride for residents living in that area.
Public safety continued to be our top priority. The City Council approved the passage of the Downey Police Civilian Volunteer Patrol Program this year which will be beneficial to both the police department and the community. Interested residents will be trained to help patrol our streets to be an added set of eyes and ears for our department.
Another program approved this year is the Park Ranger program. In the next few months, you will see dedicated Downey Park Rangers solely patrolling our parks to ensure the safety of all. We also approved 25 new license plate readers which will assist our excellent Police Department with added technology to combat crime. A new, state of the art fire engine went into service to further protect our residents as well.
This week, we will roll out our new and improved Downey City Website to provide easier access to City Hall at your fingertips. We expanded the City of Downey App and approved a new iPad kiosk system at City Hall which allows visitors to provide input on how we can improve service. One of my goals as Mayor was to do an Independent Audit of the building and permit process. This was recently completed and has provided valuable information on how to more efficiently and effectively serve the public and our businesses at City Hall.
With the grand opening of the Downey Promenade and the expansion of Downtown Downey, we saw unprecedented growth in new businesses opening and building permits issued. It seemed like I was attending ribbon cuttings every other day. As you see, much was accomplished this year and I am just as excited for 2017 and what lies ahead.
Finally, I would like to thank each of my City Council colleagues for serving our community, our incredible City staff for their hard work day in and day out, and all the service groups and volunteers who make a difference in our Community every single day. Each of us individually makes a difference, but working together is what makes Downey the best it can be.
Thank you to my beautiful and incredibly supportive wife Giggy, my 3 children Dominic, Gianna and Alexander, my mother Elsa, as well as my brothers Sammy, Dennis and Andy for supporting me this year along with all my friends and Downey family. It has been my honor to serve you and thank you for allowing me to be the Mayor of my hometown.
I look forward to continuing to serve you for another 4 years. I continue to believe in Downey and know that if we work together, the best days are ahead of us.
Mayor Alex Saab