Voters choose Vasquez for city council

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, narrowly defeating 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. Sears finished with 1,180 votes. 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. As a former development manager with National Core, Vasquez 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." Throughout the race, Vasquez has continually issued three main goals that he plans to accomplish if elected. "We need to expand our public safety, be tough on gangs and illegal street vendors, and promote economic development," he said. "It's simple, increase revenue, expand redevelopment areas…We must be progressive and fiscally responsible - I can get it done." Vasquez will be sworn in next month, when he replaces Bayer, who is being termed out of office.