Citizens retain vote on public safety

DOWNEY − Measure B, the controversial initiative that would have deleted a city requirement that Downey provide its own police and fire services, was overwhelmingly rejected by Downey voters on Tuesday. If approved, Measure B would have allowed future city councils to contract police and fire services -- possibly to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department or L.A. County Fire Department -- without a two-thirds advisory vote by Downey voters.

With all precincts reporting, the ballot measure lost by more than 4600 votes as 82.9 percent of voters rejected the initiative supported by the Downey Firemen’s Association.

City officials called the defeat “a victory for all Downey residents.”

“We sent the message tonight that we’re united and we cannot be tricked by special interests,” said Councilman Alex Saab, one of the spearheads of the “No on Measure B” campaign, along with realtor Lourdes Cotaya and planning commissioner Robert Kiefer.

“We’re proud of our police and fire departments -- we’ve got the best around. They’re not going anywhere, they’re here to stay.”

Early Wednesday morning, the fire union released a statement via Facebook, thanking those who supported the measure despite a tumultuous campaign.

“Thank you to the citizens of Downey who took the time to understand the complete picture of what Measure B meant,” the union said. “Thank you to our membership and their families for their tireless efforts trying to get our message out through the negativity.”

Last year, the Downey Firemen’s Association successfully collected more than 12,000 signatures to place Measure B on the primary ballot. While fire union officials insisted Downey was in violation of its own charter by hiring outside jailers, city officials saw the ballot initiative as an attempt to drive Downey closer to contracting county fire and emergency services.

Under the current city charter, unless 66 percent of residents approve contracting police or fire services, the Downey City Council cannot approve such a change. In 1998, the two-thirds advisory vote was added to the city charter, overwhelmingly accepted by 85 percent of resident voters.

Saab said the vote on Tuesday demonstrates that while times have changed in Downey, the values have not.

“We hope to work together with our fire association with the common goal to continue providing the best public safety for our residents,” he said. “We’re very proud of the community for standing up and defending their fundamental right to vote. This really shows that the future of Downey is brighter than ever.”



Published: June 5, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 08