DOWNEY − For Shahira A-Malek, running for the Downey City Council has little to do with qualifications and prerequisites. “I’m very qualified and have a lot to offer,” she said. “But it’s about what I’m willing to give to the community.”
A-Malek, a local physician and longtime Downey resident, is hopeful voters will recognize her experience and leadership this November as she campaigns to replace outgoing Councilman Mario Guerra on the city council.
Contenders for the District 2 council seat also include Robert Kiefer, chairman of the Downey Planning Commission, and Sean Ashton, a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher and member of Downey’s Green Taskforce.
“My experience comes mostly from old age,” quipped A-Malek, who is 64. “I’m the oldest out of the three [candidates] and that comes with a variety of experience.”
Unlike her opponents, this is not A-Malek’s first attempt to claim a vacancy on the city council. In 2008, she ran for the District 5 city-wide seat and came in third place behind Gary DeRemer and winner Luis Marquez.
A-Malek said she decided to run again because she wanted a second chance to do something for the community she’s lived in for nearly 30 years.
“I’ve been giving [to the city] in a different way. Going to council meetings, sharing my ideas,” she said. “But I think when you’re sitting on the seat – it’s a lot easier to get things looked at.”
This time around, A-Malek’s campaign platform will focus on enhancing the city’s social programs by offering a gated housing community for seniors and after-school activities for at-risk youth. She also supports opening a satellite college campus in Downey that could serve as an extension of a nearby California state or community college.
Regarding future plans for city emergency services, A-Malek said it’s important to keep both the police and fire departments intact.
“I consider myself conservative, but I don’t have any political affiliation,” she said. “I have no political ambitions – my allegiance is to the city and the people.”
If elected, A-Malek, who came to the U.S. in 1976 from Egypt, believes she will bring a new dynamic to the council.
“For 30 years I’ve been running a successful medical practice [in Huntington Park]. I’ve served as chief of staff at two different hospitals,” A-Malek said. “I’ve sat on medical governing boards and many boards for charitable organizations.”
The married mother of four adult children said she will also fund her own campaign.
“Not because I’m rich,” she said. “I don’t want to owe anyone any favors.”
A-Malek, who was endorsed by former Downey Mayor Anne Bayer last month, said she will reach out to Downey residents and use any means available to make personal contact with voters.
“I’ve met Mr. Kiefer, he’s a nice man…Mr. Ashton seems to be a fine gentleman, but I feel I am a better choice,” A-Malek said. “When it comes to my experience, integrity, and devotion, nobody can challenge that.”
Published: Sept. 4, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 21