Marquez reflects on his year as mayor

DOWNEY - Predictably, in his final address Tuesday as outgoing mayor, councilman Luis Marquez put a positive spin on everything he set out to accomplish at the outset of his mayoral term.He said then, on Dec. 14, 2010, that he would develop his programs of branding, Assembly District preservation, public safety (involving police and fire), parks maintenance and improvement, economic and community development, infrastructure upgrade, attention to environmental issues, and administrative initiatives, around the concept of "One Downey" or "One City." Sure enough, in assessing the past 12 months with him at the helm as mayor, he rattled off what he deemed were very significant highlights, only this time he titled his address "Accomplishments and Opportunities." He said the town hall meetings under the "Mayor Presents" series, along with the neighborhood outreach events, contributed substantially to community-building, and that events such as the 4th of July fireworks celebration, the picnics including the Treasure Island activities, as well as attention to the development of such seemingly neglected areas as the ones east of the 605 Freeway and north of th I-5, had the effect of building civic pride. Other elements directly contributing to community-building, according to him, included such visible civic demonstrations as the Memorial Day observance, the 9-11 anniversary event, the police officer dedication near the entrance to the police department, as well as the Veterans' Day celebration, Taste of Downey, concerts in the park, library Story Time, the Arc Walk, and Meals on Wheels events/programs - these, he said, were all part of the overall theme of "neighbors meeting neighbors", and "people interacting with one another". Other elements enhancing pride in Downey were such events as the Downey High Hall of Fame, Gangs Out of Downey event with Fr. Boyle, Character Counts in partnership with the school district, not to mention the Keep Downey Beautiful and Neighborhood Watch programs, the activities of the Kiwanis Green Team, participation in the All America City competition held in Kansas - "making us so proud of our city and appreciation for the fine work we've done to improve our quality of life." Towards this end, Marquez said in a later interview that efforts should be made to "let everybody know that they're an essential part of the community, that diversity is to be welcomed, and get as many people in the mix as we can." On the parks, environment, safety component, he pointed to the educational efforts to prevent pollution, done through such vehicles as the used oil recycling calendar contest, the first "dog party" at the city's new dog park, and the banning of smoking in public parks "This objective was also advanced by supporting our police and fire departments, numerous CERT exercises and water barrel give-aways, as well as the fire and police explorer programs," he said, "giving young people a positive outlet, in an effort to keep good kids good." On the economic development front, Marquez pointed to Downey's efforts to be recognized as a business-friendly city, which was validated by Raytheon's setting up shop here, the View housing groundbreaking, and the coming of the Gateway Center, the Marketplace Grill & Café, Buffalo Wild Wings and Fiat. "I think we accomplished a lot in this area, even as we worked hard with the employees' associations, which forced us to make a lot of hard decisions. Thus we tackled the formation of a two-tier retirement program, not an easy thing to do," he said. "In all this, we looked closely and hard at the long-term viability of the future of the city, taking into account the state of the city and the welfare of our employees. I'm proud of my part in this exercise." "In this connection," he went on, "my proudest moment was in being able to adopt the budget that continued to move the city forward without significant cuts in essential services, while other cities resorted to layoffs, funding cuts that led for example to the closing of their libraries, and so on." "I cannot claim sole credit for these developments, but these were accomplished in collaboration with my colleagues on the council and a hard-working staff, and the leadership of our departing city manager Jerry Caton indeed put us in this position," he said. "We will continue to build on past successes of the Columbia Memorial Space Center," he said, as he acknowledged the largesse from Dr. Mary Stauffer for field trips, and welcoming the new affiliation with the Smithsonian. The "wonderful art installations around the city can only serve to enhance civic pride and reduce graffiti in the city as well," he said, at the same time expressing pleasure at the additional public information tools at the city's disposal (e.g., the city's Facebook page and Twitter feed, as well as the smart phone app, My Downey, that allows people to report graffiti at the quick-all falling under the city's arts and information objective.. Elaborating further, Marquez said he would continue to press for a synthetic field at Discovery Sports Complex as the soccer field is being subjected to heavy use. On the matter of the council members' wives' more active participation, he said a couple of events at the behest of his pregnant wife, Alma, should move this program forward. Finally, Marquez said, he has every intention to run for the State Assembly over the newly-created 58th Assembly District. "I believe I have the wherewithal to bring an understanding, resulting from my three years service on the city council, to Sacramento with which to address the budgetary crisis the state is undergoing. Aside from this, my priority has always been my family-my wife Alma, son Diego, daughter Maya, soon to be joined by my third child who has been six months in Alma's womb."

********** Published: December 8, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 34