DOWNEY – Alex Saab called for a renewed spirit of volunteerism and city entrepreneurship on Tuesday after being sworn in as Downey’s 43rd mayor.
In front of a standing room only crowd at City Hall, Saab laid out an ambitious vision that doubles down on public safety spending, community branding efforts, and economic development in south Downey.
While that’s only a portion of what the 40-year-old Downey native seeks to accomplish, Saab made it clear, he can’t do it all on his own.
“I want to hear from you,” he said. “What would you do if you were mayor? The best ideas aren’t going to come from me, they’re going to come from you.”
Saab pledged to advocate community engagement during his term by promoting volunteer opportunities for residents to participate in home-grown programs for youth, veterans, and senior citizens.
“It’s a call to service for every citizen to get involved and make a difference in our community,” he said.
Moreover, Saab highlighted his commitment to public safety by reassuring residents that nearly 70% of the city’s $162 million budget will continue to fund Downey’s police and fire agencies.
“Let’s be realistic here, we’ve been in the news lately for reasons we would rather not,” Saab said referencing the tragic shooting death of Downey police officer Ricardo Galvez.
“Believe me, we are all well-aware of the sentiment and we can promise you that we will not falter, but we will fight day in, day out to keep our residents safe.”
In keeping with that promise, Saab announced an increased police presence at city parks, an expansion of neighborhood watch groups, five new police vehicles, one new police officer, and increased patrolling in Downtown Downey during evenings and weekends.
Saab also proposed an independent audit of the city’s permit processes and customer service procedures.
“Our staff does an incredible job, but the day we get complacent, the day we think things are just fine the way we are, is the day we need to move on as your representatives,” said Saab.
He maintained instead that the city should always be prepared for the next Porto’s or Tropicana Bakery by identifying methods to increase public access to community development forms.
New economic development is also coming to Imperial Highway if Saab gets his way.
“One of the things that irks me a little is when I speak with potential businesses who want to invest in our city, but they say they only want to be on Firestone or Florence,” Saab said. “The south part of our city is going to be the place to be and we need to be prepared to encourage businesses to invest in south Downey.”
Part of that redevelopment includes building a sports complex of soccer fields and park space on the Rancho Los Amigos south campus, which is owned by Los Angeles County.
“No promises, but we’re working with the county to find creative ideas for funding,” he said.
Saab’s priorities also include creating a medical overlay zone, which will facilitate the growth and prestige of Downey’s medical industry; investing in the branding initiative Discover Downey through social media marketing and promotional videos; and expanding public art spaces and introducing the Downtowney Art Walk sponsored by Stay Gallery and the Downey Arts Coalition.
However, the highlight of Saab’s one-year tenure will most likely surround the city’s 60th anniversary. To commemorate the celebration, the city will host a monthly speaker series, historic tours, concerts, and a Celebrate Downey Festival on July 4.
Raised in Downey, Saab attended both Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower. Later, he earned his juris doctorate degree from Loyola Law School before establishing his own Downey practice in 2002.
Before being elected to the city council in 2012, Saab was president-elect of the Downey Chamber of Commerce and vice president of the Southeast District Bar Association.
Saab ended his first mayoral address by thanking his wife Giggy and three kids, Dominic, Gianna, and Alexander.
“I’ve been the luckiest guy in my 40 years on this earth and I hope to leave our city of Downey a little bit better than when we started,” he said.