DOWNEY - In a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, Councilmember Anne Bayer was chosen by the City Council to serve as Downey's next mayor, but not before the decision was vehemently opposed by former Mayor Mario Guerra and Councilmember Luis Marquez, who will now serve as Mayor Pro Tem.Initially, the mayoral transition ceremony took a cordial tone, celebrating Guerra's accomplishments during his year-long term, but the chambers grew tense as the Council clashed over the proposed rotation of mayor, which would place Bayer next in line for the position. Prior to the vote, Guerra read a statement, which summarized the reason for his dissenting vote. "I'm worried for our city," said Guerra, whose words drew audible jeers from some audience members. "This is not a personal thing - let me make it clear, I have great respect for her as a person, but voting for her is not in the best interests of the city." Guerra continued by listing a number of city events not attended by Bayer. While sharing many dissenting votes found in Bayer's voting record, Guerra highlighted her vote against the redevelopment of downtown Downey and the city's Character Counts program. "The voting record is very clear," said Guerra. "I'm just doing what's right for our city." Marquez agreed with Guerra and voted against the proposed rotation. "You run for office to best represent the people - everyone in the city," said Marquez. "Someone who gets to be mayor earns it." Before either Guerra or Marquez stated their opinions, several supporters of Bayer expressed their concern, worried that the council might vote to elect another council member as mayor instead of Mayor Pro Tem Bayer. Former councilmember Diane Boggs defended Bayer and warned the Council. "Don't get too political with this position," said Boggs. "It would be bad if she doesn't take that position." Longtime Downey resident Maria Larkin read the minutes from last year's mayoral transition where Guerra was unanimously chosen to be mayor and Bayer was selected as Mayor Pro Tem. Gafin also came to Bayer's defense, calling the mayoral position, just a ceremonial one. "We're all still steering the ship," said Gafin. "A year and a half ago, we set up a plan that everyone was in agreement with - there's no reason to change it now." With Guerra and Marquez dissenting, Brossmer and Gafin voted with Bayer, granting the two-term councilwomen her second term as mayor. Bayer never responded to the arguments brought up by her fellow council members and, likewise, Brossmer chose not to comment on his decision to vote for Bayer. Following Bayer's election, Marquez was unanimously approved by his fellow council members, making him Mayor Pro Tem. Marquez abstained from the vote. Prior to the vote, Guerra thanked the city and residents for a "phenomenal year in the city" during his final address. From Tesla to crime statistics and from Porto's Bakery to Downey's newest sister city, Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico, Guerra recounted the many events he attended and projects he helped initiate during his term. During the ceremony, Guerra was honored by several organizations and legislators including the Chamber of Commerce, the Downey Unified School District, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, County Supervisor Don Knabe, and both the cities of Artesia and Cerritos. "The city is in great hands," said Guerra. "We have outstanding leadership and a great City Council - It was an honor to serve as the 43rd mayor of the city of Downey."
********** Published: December 11, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 33