Voters choose Vasquez

DOWNEY - After a polarizing and tumultuous campaign in District 4, Fernando Vasquez, local housing development manager and Downey Planning Commissioner, has defeated opponents Alex Saab and Lee Ann Sears to capture the coveted City Council seat, which will soon be vacated by Mayor Anne Bayer.With all precincts reporting, Vasquez, 30, took in 42 percent of the vote, nearly 5 points ahead of local attorney Alex Saab, who claimed 37 percent of the vote. According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office, Vasquez collected 2,554 votes, enabling him to narrowly defeat Saab, who pulled in 2,271 votes. Community leader Lee Ann Sears, who announced her candidacy in April and touted her nearly 20 years of local volunteerism during the campaign, came in at a distant third, capturing just 19 percent of the vote and finishing with 1,180 votes. "We are proud of our campaign - this was a true grassroots effort made up of neighbors, friends, family and Downey youth," said Vasquez on Wednesday afternoon. "We walked, talked and knocked on every door to reach voters - it's the sign of a good campaign. We walked every day and our message resonated with the voters." Vasquez assures residents that he will fight for the goals he set forth after announcing his candidacy in March. "Public safety, being tough on gangs and illegal street vendors, quality of life issues such as paving streets, trimming trees," he said. "It's all about having a nice, safe, clean community to live in." After thanking his supporters, Vasquez congratulated Saab and Sears on running good campaigns and working hard to improve the community. "I want to work with them to make Downey the best place to live," Vasquez said. "Downey is not divided; we are a city of one. It's about living up to the promise…integrity means a lot. Government should be there to help people, to be accessible to the community." Saab, in a phone interview, praised his supporters, pledging to continue his community involvement within the city. "Honestly, I'm very proud of the positive campaign that we ran and I'm grateful and humbled by all the support we received," said Saab. "I look forward to helping to contribute anyway I can to making the city a better place." Sears echoed Saab's sentiments, asserting that in the end the residents had the last say. "I kept the people and the community at heart while campaigning and I will still be involved in the community," she said. "I wish Fernando well - and I hope he takes the whole community at heart. It's not all about redevelopment, there's more to the community than just that…I want to see the city give back to the seniors and children." As a longtime resident of Downey, Vasquez started his community involvement during his collegiate years, earning a bachelor's degree in 2003 from UC Riverside and later a master's degree in city planning from San Diego State. Fluent in both English and Spanish, Vasquez is a member of the Downey Kiwanis Club and serves as adviser to Downey High School's Key Club. Currently, Vasquez is vice president of Gangs Out of Downey and a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Downey Coordinating Council and Downey Sister Cities Association. Vasquez, who said he resigned with non-profit housing developer National Core on Oct. 1 to seek new local business opportunities, promoted his business and economic development knowledge during the campaign, insisting that redevelopment was the best tool to spark economic growth in the city. "We need to cut the road blocks and attract those quality businesses to our city," said Vasquez during a candidate's forum last month. "I have the vision and the leadership…I know how to get things done." Vasquez will be sworn in next month, when he replaces Bayer, who is being termed out of office.

********** Published: November 4, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 29