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Vasquez Selected Downey Mayor; Marquez Mayor Pro Tem After Heated Exchange


By Tammye McDuff

Councilman Fernando Vasquez has been selected as the new mayor of Downey in a unanimous vote at the last city council meeting.

Vasquez succeeds outgoing mayor Mario Guerra. The new mayor was first elected to the Downey city council in 2010 and will become one of the youngest figure heads and leader of the five member governing body for the next 12 months.

Within minutes of selecting Vasquez as Mayor, a contentious battle unfolded as to who the next Mayor Pro Tem would be.

A motion was made by Guerra to nominate Councilmember Roger Brossmer for the number two position on the council. Brossmer declined the nomination, stating that if he were nominated and the vote passed, he would have to resign. Brossmer stated that previous discussions, based on the rotation from each members first term and past practices of the Council, Luis Marquez Council Member District 1 should be next in line for Mayor Pro Tem.

Mayor Guerra stated that he was doing what he believed best for the citizens of Downey and attempted to convince Brossmer to reconsider, again, he declined. Guerra and Marquez have not seen eye to eye politically for the past number of years.  To further matters, Guerra then took the unusual step to place councilman Alex Saab District 5, into nomination for Mayor Pro Tem. Guerra and Saab have been political allies and personal friends outside of city hall.

Saab immediately questioned city attorney [name] about past protocol and asked if the Downey city charter had any specific statutes regarding selection of mayor pro tem. After a lengthy in depth discussion between council members and city attorney, Saab also declined the nomination, agreeing with Councilmember Brossmer that Marquez was next in rotation.

Marquez questioned Guerra directly about why he should not be allowed to be mayor pro tem.   Mayor Guerra fired back that he would vote his “conscience” for what he believed best for the city and stated that Marquez “would not be the greatest contemporary as Mayor Pro Tem or as Mayor.”

Guerra said “This is neither political nor personal. You made a lot of campaign promises Mr. Marquez to the people, which you did not keep. You owe our citizens over $38,000 dollars which you said you would repay.”

“You have sat on the council now for six years and you have yet to repay this debt. So if you are asking me if I think Mr. Brossmer or Mr. Saab would make a better Mayor than you, I say absolutely,” Guerra said.

“There are many other reasons why I believe that you, Mr. Marquez as Mayor, would not be in the best interest of our citizens, but I will not go into that at this time.” Guerra quipped.

In a final vote Marquez narrowly secured a majority vote with the support from Brossmer and Saab, with Guerra and Vasquez opposing.

Vasquez is involved in various local organizations, including Downey Kiwanis, Gangs out Of Downey, Downey High School Key Club advisor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, and the Downey Planning Commission.  In 2010, he was elected to the Downey City Council and became the youngest person in his district to do so.

Vasquez graduated from UC Riverside, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and from San Diego State University, where he earned a master’s degree in City Planning.

As a community leader, Vasquez said he has demonstrated a strong commitment to economic development and small business opportunities while promoting health initiatives that focus on wellness, healthier lifestyles and providing health care access.

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