Mark Vasquez wants to be the people's councilman

DOWNEY - Mark Vasquez has no intention of becoming a career politician - in fact, the longtime Downey resident and community volunteer says he already has a career. "I'm a retired florist of 60 years," said Vasquez with a smile. "Downey has been good to us, I just want to fulfill my civic duties and help the city."

For the second time in eight years, Vasquez is running for the Downey City Council hoping to become the people's councilman that'll bring a resident's perspective to the dais this November. Vasquez is just one of three contenders hoping to replace Councilman David Gafin, who will be termed out of office this year.

Former president of the Downey Rose Float Association and resident of Downey for more than 30 years, Vasquez owns Saywell Florist, located at 10235 Paramount Blvd., which he ran with his wife for 32 years.

In 2004, Vasquez ran against Gafin for the District 1 seat and lost, but has never stopped his volunteer work in the community.

"Gafin appointed me to the city's hospital board and later the Recreation and Community Services Commission," he said. "I'm civically-minded, a member of the Elks and the Downey Chamber of Commerce. I don't want to be left behind - I want to get involved."

In November, Vasquez, 74, will faceoff against Planning Commissioner Michael Murray, who owns Downey Used Cars on Lakewood Boulevard, and Councilman Luis Marquez who decided last month to vacate his District 5 city-wide seat in order to seek reelection in District 1.

"Marquez keeps running for the state and saying he's doing it for the community," Vasquez said. "If he's doing it for the community, why didn't he stay in District 5?"

While Vasquez did not offer much in terms of campaign promises, the San Antonio, Texas native did make a strong commitment to preserve the Downey Fire Department if elected.

Although the city lost a fire engine during recent budget concessions to prevent firefighter layoffs, Vasquez said switching to county fire service would be even worse for the city.

"It'll cost a fortune once they're out," said Vasquez. "Some of the guys think they'll make more [money], but the city would lose all the property. It would cost us a fortune to buy it back."

Even though Vasquez doesn't plan to collect any donations or seek any endorsements, he's hopeful his self-financed, low-key campaign will connect with local residents who want a councilman they can trust.

"I'm a concerned citizen dedicated for Downey," said Vasquez. "I've supported Downey, I'm all for Downey - I'm not running for state or county, I'm running in support for Downey."

********** Published: September 13, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 22