An emotional David Gafin bows out of local politics

DOWNEY - For weeks before his anticipated exit as Downey council member because of term limits, David Gafin kept assuring everybody that his last day "on the job" as mayor pro tem would be just another day.Yet last Dec. 6 at the council reorganization ceremony, his voice cracking with emotion and tears running down his face, "This is going to be tough" and "This is not going to be easy" became the leitmotifs for his final address, which he used to thank those individuals who either had a profound impact on him during his 20 years of service at City Hall (12 years as planning commissioner and eight years as council member) or helped him in countless ways in the performance of his official functions. Topping the list was former mayor Diane Boggs, who Gafin said selected him as her appointee to the Planning Commission 20 years ago. Then he mentioned Keith McCarthy and Meredith Perkins whom he credited with giving him wise guidance and counsel. Then he acknowledged his indebtedness to city staff and department heads-from Shannon De Long to Lonnie Croom to Gilbert Livas to Shirley Conte-as well as his mostly positive interactions with his colleagues on the Council (Fernando Vasquez, Luis Marquez, Roger Brossmer and Mario Guerra). Then he thanked the citizens of Downey "for allowing me to serve you-each and everyone of you." Finally he thanked his wife, Brenda, and his children for their support through the years. And turning to the audience one last time before he was showered with citations from various parties, he said: "It's been a great run. Thank you all." Then Brossmer (District 3), Marquez (District 1), and freshman Councilman Alex Saab (District 5) were sworn in and presented with their certificates of election. After brief remarks from Brossmer and Marquez, practically everyone stood up to greet Saab with thunderous and welcoming applause. "It's very humbling to be here," Saab began his speech. "I learned that in this country, what's important is not where you came from, but where you're going." For whatever success he has achieved, Saab thanked his parents "whose greatest gifts to me were their being my role models." Then he enumerated the areas he intends to focus on as a council member: try to achieve a balanced city budget; encourage all citizens to participate in one way or another in city government; integrate the northern and southern portions of Downey; encourage the formation of a Citizens Board, who will advise the Council on matters especially concerning the arts and cultural resources; the promotion of downtown growth, including small business; more attention to environmental issues (green technology, etc.); the creation of a social justice board; and increased encouragement of volunteerism. He said what makes Downey special is its people, "people who move and can act together, people with a sense of community." Finally, he thanked everybody "who, in one way or another, contributed to where I am today."

********** Published: December 13, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 35