Downey voters tasked with big decisions

DOWNEY − With just days left until Tuesday’s city council election, the three candidates vying to replace outgoing Councilman Mario Guerra all say their experience and commitment qualify them to sit on the dais. “My campaign signs say ‘honesty, integrity, and community.’ I want to be somebody the people can go to – accessible to everybody,” said Sean Ashton, a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher and member of Downey’s Green Taskforce. “I’m walking door to door, talking to as many people I can on weekends.”

Ashton is just one of the candidates running in District 2, which covers roughly south of Firestone Boulevard and west of Brookshire Avenue. The other candidates are Robert Kiefer, a small business owner and chairman of the Planning Commission, and Dr. Shahira A-Malek, a local physician.

“I’m interested in having the city work for the residents, not outside entities,” said Ashton, who is advocating for more sidewalks, street lights, and police patrols in south Downey. “I want to get the city moving in the right direction.”

A-Malek, a longtime Downey resident and lone female candidate, is hopeful voters will recognize her qualifications next week.

“I respect the other two candidates, but I am the most trustworthy and accomplished. I do not owe anyone any favors – my commitment is to the voters and the city of Downey,” she said.

In 2008, A-Malek ran for the District 5 city-wide seat and came in third place behind Gary DeRemer and winner Luis Marquez, however, she said no one can challenge her experience in the community.

“I am the most qualified and experienced, but I also have the will power to put that experience to use,” A-Malek said.

A-Malek is running on a platform of expanding senior services as well as spearheading a community college expansion into Downey.

For Kiefer, who has lived in Downey since he was ten-years-old, the city council race is uniquely personal.

“I have a lot of pride in this city and that’s vital when you serve on the city council,” he said.  “Although my opponents have good intentions, I have far more experience in community service and city government.”

Kiefer was appointed to the city planning commission in 2008 and has served as its chairman for the last two years. Earlier this year, he organized the city campaign against Measure D, which would have mitigated a majority vote required by residents to contract out police and fire services.

“I have a proven track record that citizens would be happy with,” he said. “But I’m not Mario Guerra. I have my own thoughts and vision. Just like the rest of the citizens, there are some things I like and some things I don’t like.”

Kiefer is advocating for a stronger economic base, which he says will pay for better parks and roads while offsetting city repair costs.



Published: Oct. 30, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 29