Dear Mario: I’m hoping you read this letter. I know you’re a faithful reader of the Patriot, but just to be sure I’ve got your attention, I've placed your photo right up there.
Now I know you’re reading this.
See, that’s what I like about you. As much as you have accomplished professionally and politically – two-time mayor of Downey, president of Independent Cities Association, an emerging voice in state politics – you never lost your sense of humor. You’ve always been able to laugh at yourself, and understand that the most important things in life happen outside the doldrums of conference rooms and city council meetings.
But to be sure, conference rooms and city council meetings are where you excelled. Where others tip-toed around the politics of small government bureaucracy, encumbered by political correctness and afraid to ruffle feathers, you learned to steamroll right through the roadblocks.
At times you came across as abrasive and overbearing (mostly because you were abrasive and overbearing), but it was a tactic that proved necessary and successful. Stuff got done – to the betterment of the city.
After eight years as a city council member, going back to regular civilian life cannot be easy, especially when your level of enthusiasm for the job never waned. In fact, while other politicians often waste no time losing sight of their responsibilities shortly after taking office, your commitment to public service actually increased over the last eight years.
You never took for granted the immense trust placed in you by voters, evidenced by your perfect attendance record at council meetings.
As a voter, that’s all you can really ask for, that your government representative make honest, unbiased, uninfluenced, independent decisions that are in the city’s best interest. I believe you did that, even if we didn’t always agree.
As you couldn’t resist mentioning at your final meeting Tuesday, I thought it was silly for the city to send delegations to Denver and Kansas City to compete for an All America City award – so we could join distinguished ranks of cities like Compton, Paramount and South Gate – as was sending a delegation to Ireland for Sister City ceremonies. But where I saw unnecessary pomp and circumstance, you saw an opportunity to sell Downey on a national and global level, and I respect that.
So now here’s the thing: in case you thought otherwise, the city of Downey needs you now more than ever. And when I say “city of Downey,” I don’t mean City Hall, but us regular folks.
Why are street repairs on Lakewood and Firestone two months behind schedule, costing restaurants and businesses thousands of dollars in lost revenue? We’re supposed to be a business-friendly city.
What is the hold-up with the Promenade shopping center? The groundbreaking occurred more than a year ago.
Why are public documents so difficult to access on the city’s website? It flies in the face of government transparency.
These are just some of the questions that need answering, and as a council member, Mario, you asked those questions. For the sake of Downey, we need you to continue.
Downey is a big city with small-town tendencies, and I’m afraid that sometimes we lose focus of the issues and people that truly matter. We forget that Downey’s true public servants aren’t found at City Hall, but in classrooms, where teachers tutor kids long after school lets out; on baseball fields, where coaches preach ethics and good sportsmanship to kids; in churches, where volunteers work late into the night to ensure needy families have access to food and clothing the following morning; and in countless other places.
A lot of work remains to be done in Downey, and the fact that you’re no longer burdened with the constant demands and restraints of a council member is a blessing for this city. It allows you to do so much more.
Mario, I would say Downey will miss you, but I hope you don’t give us that opportunity.
Published: Dec. 11, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 35