Candidates make final pitches before Election Day

DOWNEY - With just days until Election Day, local candidates running for the Downey City Council are out fine tuning their messages this weekend, still eager to convince residents they have the vision and qualifications needed to lead the city for the next four years. After a season of contentious mailers and ethical accusations, contenders vying for open city council seats in District 1 and 5 showed no signs of letting up this week.

"We feel good...we're confident that the residents will make the right choice and choose the most ethical, honest person - a role model for the community," said Alex Saab, local attorney and community leader who is campaigning for the District 5 city-wide seat.

"They don't want Bell Gardens politics in Downey," he added. "It's clear, I'm the most qualified to move our city forward. Downey is unique and we have to fight to keep it that way for our children." Saab, who lost his 2010 bid for the city council, is confident voters will put their trust in him this time around.

"I'm very proud of my strong record of serving the community in my roles as a business owner and community service leader," he said. "I didn't just move into Downey and decide to do this - I grew up here, this is my motivation."

The race in District 5 has likely become the most tumultuous this year with four candidates vying to replace Councilman Luis Marquez, who decided to vacate his District 5 city-wide seat in order to seek reelection in District 1.

In addition to Saab, other contenders include former professional baseball player Gabriel Orozco, former Bell Gardens Councilman Salvador Franco, and attorney-at-law Ricardo Perez.

A resident of Downey for six years, Franco says he'll use "real-world experience" to attract over 100 new businesses to Downey, create hundreds of new private sector jobs and hire additional police officers if elected.

In his official campaign statement, Franco lists the Downey Firemen's Association as an endorsement and promises to "improve our fire department and fire service."

However, several allegations surfaced last week claiming Franco may have committed voter fraud between 2007-2010 by living in Downey, but voting in nearby Bell Gardens.

While Franco has yet to formally deny the allegations, he believes his opponents have negatively characterized him and his record throughout the campaign.

"This has not been a clean campaign against me, but if they didn't feel I was a strong candidate they wouldn't be attacking me," Franco said. "I'm not from the same crowd - I'm an outsider, but Downey needs someone with new ideas."

Franco said he is very proud of the work his campaign has done walking the neighborhoods of Downey, educating voters on the issues.

"We're trying to finish off what we started two months ago," he said. "I'm an innovative leader focused on economic growth...I'm the right choice with the right plan."

Orozco on Wednesday tempered expectations promising to remain active in the community whether he claims victory on Tuesday or not.

"I thank God for the opportunity to be in this position and I humbly ask Downey voters for their vote," Orozco said. "No matter the outcome, we'll be here pushing forward the issues, working towards a better Downey. I'm available to the community, they know where I stand on the issues - I like my chances."

District 1, which covers southeast Downey, is also a competitive race with three candidates hoping to replace Councilman David Gafin, who will be termed out of office this year.

Longtime resident and active community leader Mark Vasquez will faceoff against Councilman Luis Marquez and Downey Planning Commissioner Michael Murray, owner of Downey Used Cars on Lakewood Boulevard.

Although Mayor Roger Brossmer is running unopposed for his District 3 (northwest) seat, he praised the community this week, pledging to continue his service with residents in mind.

"I was honored to serve the last four years and I want the residents to know that I look forward to four more years," Brossmer said. "I want to continue to really keep an eye on the budget. We were able to close the gap this year, but that deficit's not going away. I also want to bring in more businesses and jobs for our city so there'll be no more cuts in the future."

The Downey City Council election is this Tuesday, Nov. 6.

********** Published: November 1, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 29