New council member Vasquez takes seat Tuesday

DOWNEY - Fernando Vasquez, who secured a narrow victory over Lee Ann Sears and Alex Saab last month in a bid to replace Mayor Anne Bayer on the City Council, will be sworn into office Tuesday.The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. inside council chambers at City Hall. It will also mark the final official meeting for Bayer, who has been termed out of office after eight years. Bayer took office in 2002, representing District 4 (northeast Downey). In her time on the city council, she developed a reputation as a staunch advocate for fiscal conservancy. Vasquez will join the council at a time when the city is aggressive with its redevelopment plans. Efforts to redevelop downtown Downey are moving forward, with affordable housing key to the city's plan for revival. Porto's Bakery has proven to be a draw downtown, as it averages 5,000 customers daily, according to store officials. Across the street, demolition is underway for a new food court. Progress is also expected late next year on the Tierra Luna project, which calls for the redevelopment of Downey Studios with retail, commercial and entertainment districts. Vasquez previously worked for National Community Renaissance, a non-profit housing developer that was awarded the contract to construct the housing project downtown. In an interview shortly after he was elected, Vasquez said he left the company Oct. 1. He also dispelled rumors he was using the Downey City Council as a stepping stone to higher office. "Please quote me, I am not running for another office," Vasquez said. "My focus will be on Downey for the next eight years, if I am reelected." Vasquez's first order of business will be to help select a mayor for 2011. The City Council will meet in a special session Wednesday where they are expected to elevate Mayor Pro Tem Luis Marquez to the largely ceremonial top spot. The new mayor will be sworn-in at the Dec. 14 regular council meeting.

********** Published: December 2, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 33