Fernando Vasquez reflects on his year as Downey mayor

Photo by John Zander Councilman Fernando Vasquez is issued the oath of office by his wife, Donna. Vasquez was elected to a second four-year term last month.

Photo by John Zander

Councilman Fernando Vasquez is issued the oath of office by his wife, Donna. Vasquez was elected to a second four-year term last month.

Hello Downey! My term as Mayor has come to an end and as I reflect back on this last year, I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve our City. It has been a GREAT year and together we have accomplished some pretty amazing things.

When I was sworn-in as Mayor last December, I had a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish because I knew they would make a great impact in our community. Downtown Downey experienced a wave of first time events that attracted people not only from our community, but also surrounding cities. The first Tour de Downey Bike event took place right in the heart of our downtown, bringing thousands of bicyclists together to enjoy a bike ride throughout our City.  Then came the FIFA World Cup Viewing Party that attracted over 5,000 soccer enthusiasts to Downey Avenue.  Both young and old were able to enjoy the actual world cup final and participate in other soccer-related activities. The International Food Festival (formerly known as Taste of Downey) brought the largest crowd to the streets of Downtown, with close to 20,000 in attendance… by far the most successful event we had this year! The Rooftop Concert series continued to draw crowds as we gathered on the rooftop of the Downtown parking structure.  From “Sounds of America” to “Toast of Mexico” and “Havana Nights,” there was something for everyone to enjoy. These events celebrated the rich diversity we have in our community and the different cultures we have in our City.

Downey continues to be a great place for business! With the Downey Promenade soon to open and Downtown Downey thriving, our Economic Development department is working hard to attract quality restaurants, entertainment, and positioning us to continue being a healthcare hub that attracts quality jobs.

The Downey View Apartments also opened this year and we’re glad to see this 50-unit, high quality, housing development right in our Downtown. This development provides our residents a safe place to live and prosper.  In partnership with the Stay Gallery, we officially rolled out our City’s new brand: “Discover Downey.” You may have already seen our new logo displayed in banners and street signs, and we’ve officially used this logo in all of our recent marketing material.  Discover Downey allows us to brand ourselves and make our City recognizable among other communities. It’s a way for us to promote our City and be proud of the many things that sets us apart.

The year 2014 also saw many park improvements in our City. Brookshire and Furman Parks got brand new playground equipment that our youth can now enjoy… thank you Downey Kiwanis Foundation for your generosity and support! Furman Park also got a much needed walking trail and Apollo Park will be getting one next year. A new Parks Master Plan is also being developed that will allow us to prioritize the needs of all of our park improvements.

Former Mayor Mario Guerra and I worked hard to make Downey a bike friendly City and it started with a Bicycle Master Plan… be on the lookout for the bike lanes throughout Downey. Indeed our Stay Healthy Downey Campaign is thriving more than ever!

Downey voters decided they appreciate having our own police and fire departments by overwhelmingly defeating Measure B. I have always said that our Downey Police and Fire Department take a great deal of pride with the shoulder badge they carry. Indeed, our residents know the outstanding service they provide in keeping us safe.

I’m sure many of you have driven down Firestone Boulevard and have seen the difference. It has gone through a major transformation and gives our Downtown a great new look. Major street construction is also underway on Lakewood Boulevard and it will look just as good as Firestone once it’s complete. We budgeted more than $45 million this year specifically for capital improvement projects and we’re already seeing the impact this is making in our City. Our residents have been asking for street and infrastructure improvements and our Public Works department is working around the clock to make this a reality. Trust me, I see the long hours they put in every night.

I want to sincerely thank my Council colleagues for their hard work and support, City Manager Gilbert Livas for his leadership, City staff for their commitment and our residents and businesses for allowing me the opportunity to serve this great City.

I also want to thank my wife, Donna, and my family for their support (and at times their candidness in “sharing” their ideas with me).  And yes, Donna, we’ll get a dog to walk in the evenings and I will help more around the house … all jokes aside, I’m truly blessed to have married Donna this year and have her by my side.

It has been an honor to serve as your Mayor and I know that together we will continue to accomplish great things during my next four years on the Downey City Council.

GO Downey!

Fernando Vasquez

Councilman

 

**********

Published: Dec. 18, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 36