City Hall’s chambers were practically standing room only on Tuesday evening as several local elected officials, organization representatives, family members, friends, and residents wished outgoing mayor Fernando Vasquez well and welcomed in the term of Sean Ashton.
The position of mayor is annually transferred between city council members each year. Ashton was unanimously voted to serve in the position for 2018 by his council mates earlier this month.
Mayor Vasquez reflects on 2017
Much of the evening was dedicated to outgoing Mayor Vasquez, who will finish out his last year of his final term on city council next year.
Vasquez was honored by several officials from surrounding communities, local organizations, Downey Unified School Board, the office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, and State Senator Tony Mendoza.
After all the special presentations, Vasquez gave his final Mayoral Address, highlighting several of Downey’s accomplishments during the last year including in public safety, housing and healthcare.
“The half-cent sales tax was very important for our city. As you know, it’s a challenging environment right now these days…,” said Vasquez. “But the voters spoke very loud and said they want to continue to invest in public safety…with Measure S we were able to achieve that…
“Property values continue to soar, and the Downey real estate market continues to be a very, very attractive market…
“We saw the healthcare growth. Rancho Los Amigos...is a jewel here in our city, and we’re very fortunate to have Supervisor Janice Hahn who continues to believe in it… It really takes somebody that has vision and leadership and Supervisor Hahn has been able to make that be a reality. When it comes to paraplegic wellness and also rehabilitation, it’s top rated in US Weekly news and top ten in the nation…”
Vasquez also touched on the development of the Imperial Highway corridor and the Smart 911 radio system.
Vasquez also took the time to address his successor.
“I want to thank you for working, being able to work with us for the last three years,” said Vasquez. “We wish you the best of luck and have the utmost confidence that you’ll be able to lead us, our city; to lead us to continue to be that leading city in the region…you have an entire community that’s pulling for you, that wants nothing but the best during your mayoralship, and also our city. I wish you the best of luck and we’re here for you for whatever you may need.”
Ashton outlines goals for 2018
Flanked by his two sons and with his wife holding the Bible, Ashton was sworn in as mayor for 2018.
After being administered the oath of office by Supervisor Hahn, Ashton was quick to ditch the podium and resume the approachable, casual demeanor that he has become known for through his several coffee events and town hall style meetings.
“I’m truly honored, I’m truly humbled to be here as the 44th person in the City of Downey to be Mayor,” said Ashton.
This is Ashton’s first time as Mayor. Rick Rodriguez will serve as Mayor Pro Tem.
Ashton laid out several ideas and plans that he hopes to put into action over the next year.
“When I look at my goals for 2018, Downey will continue to be a fiscally responsible and transparent city, Downey will continue to provide the best in public safety, Downey will aggressively upgrade our roads and parks, and Downey will recognize the heroes within our community,” said Ashton.
As part of his plans for public safety, Ashton announced a new paramedic engine program.
“Four out of every five calls deal with emergency medical services, not fires,” said Ashton. “We want to make sure that we are fine tuning our services to make sure that we are using our resources effectively.
“This paramedic engine program is going to take some of our paramedics that we have currently that are doing their calls out on their own, they’re going to partner them up with our fire engines, so that way we can actually increase the amount of paramedics out on the streets; we can streamline the response times for our fire engines and save money for the city as well.”
Ashton also announced that Downey will be rehabbing its fire stations.
“We have four fire stations in the city of Downey. Three of them were built in the 60’s, and the ‘new’ one was built in the 70’s,” said Ashton. “They need a little love and care, and with this Measure S money we’re going to be taking care of the necessities to make sure that, you know – new roofs that need to be replaced, new heating and air conditioning – making sure that our fire stations are usable, more modernized so that way our firefighters have what we need to the job that they do.”
Ashton also said that he plans to tackle road infrastructure, which was one of his major platforms when he ran for city council.
“In 2016, we were fixing five miles of residential streets a year. This current year in 2017, we upped that to nine miles,” said Ashton. “With the monies that will be coming in through Measure M, through the county bond measure, through SB1 and also through our Measure M monies, we’re going to be having up to 13 miles of roads – and that’s a tentative number, it might even go higher – for 2019…it’s unacceptable they have a road that looks like a cobblestone street.”