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Hi Downey Family and Friends:
This will be my final Mayors Corner. I will be passing the mayor's gavel to our Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Vasquez next Tuesday. You are invited to attend Dec. 10 in the council chambers. I know he will continue to lead our city in the right direction. He and my council colleagues will have my full support always doing what is right for our city.
As I reflect back on this past year, there are so many wonderful things that took place and for which I am very grateful to have done and experienced as your mayor. We are very blessed to live in such a great city and it's truly been an honor to serve you, our citizens.
Although the year has been filled with great events and results, I had a tough start at the beginning due to some personal issues. First, on Jan. 1 I had to undergo emergency eye surgery due to a detached retina. Second time this has happened. It was unfortunate timing right as I was ready to kick off my mayoral year, but thankfully I was able to recover quickly and get back to work. Thank you to those who drove me around for a month until I could see again.
The following month in February, we received the unfortunate news during a hospital stay that our youngest son Ryan had Type 1 Diabetes. This was a difficult thing for my family, but as always we stuck together and were there for Ryan who continues to be my number one hero. He has adjusted and has handled his life changes with true character and his insulin dependency is managed by his maturity and strength. He is an amazing kid, an amazing brother, an amazing son and I feel blessed to be his father. Thank you to those who continue to support and pray for him and my family. Ann and I are blessed to have five kids who were raised in Downey.
Then in March, I began serving at St. Linus Catholic Church along with my Stational Deacon duties at the Cathedral of our Lady. After 30 years of serving at St. Raymond's, I began my new ministries at St. Linus. I am very grateful for the warm welcome that my family and I received when we arrived and for the loving faith community. Thank you to the family of St. Linus for all of their support. We are all called to serve and I truly enjoyed our service to St. Raymond's for so many years and welcome our new faith family at St. Linus.
These few life changes at the beginning of the year did not damper my sprits of working hard to serve. One of my first goals as mayor was to implement an initiative that would help our community live a better and healthier lifestyle. We kicked off "Healthy Downey" and it has completely changed my life and others as well. I am now 85 pounds lighter from a year ago and I couldn't feel any better. I am healthier than I've ever been and I owe this to Healthy Downey.
The vision of Healthy Downey is to create a healthier community by focusing on health and nutrition. With close to 20 local partners, we have managed to do great things. Great healthy things that have never been done in our city before, from my Mayor's Walking Wednesdays, to the first Healthy Downey/TLC 5K Walk, and Bike to School days, Shop with a Nutritionist, National Night Out/Healthy Downey Walk Against Crime, and the recent Turkey Trot Bike Ride, we have engaged our community and made positive impacts. Thank you partners, city staff, our citizens and our youth for joining me in this amazing and life changing ride. We are not through yet though and I look forward to being on this path together for many years to come.
Speaking of first-time events, we had quite a few last year and it makes me proud that we as a city are always looking for new and innovative ways to make Downey a special place to live. This summer we had the first ever Golden Park Concert and Movie night, a new walking track at Wilderness Park, Make Music Downey event in our Downtown (thanks to a great team of civic leaders), and we created a new "Red Team" in an effort to be proactive with our local businesses. What's also very exciting is that we were named an All America City this past June in where we competed with cities across the nation. We were recognized for some of our outstanding projects such as the revitalization of our Downtown area, our Columbia Memorial Space Center, and our efforts in supporting our local veterans. It was such a rewarding and memorable experience.
This year I also had the privilege of traveling to Roscommon County, Ireland to sign agreements welcoming our new sister city. The birthplace of our founder, Governor John Gately Downey. I was honored to meet the mayor of Roscommon, Mr. Tom Crosby, and other members of their Council. Great people, great culture and great learning experience. Both cities can learn so much from each other and I'm sure we will have nothing but positive things come from our new sister city relationship. You have already read about his daughter's life being impacted by our visit there. Life changing in many ways. Our future together starts with our common roots. We are proud of our heritage.
We've had several dedications this year as well and so much to look forward to in the future. We dedicated The View housing development, a new 50-unit downtown project; Downey Gateway, a vibrant commercial center in Downtown; Treasure Island Park; Telegraph Road Street Improvement Project; the David R. Gafin Dog Park; and The Promenade at Downey, a new 1.5 million square foot development project that will consist of premiere retailers, hotel, restaurants and cafes, a 14-screen cinema, and office space. Our $5 million dollar Firestone Blvd repaving and improvement project will start next month. We have also resurfaced 154 streets in Downey with many more on the way. Stay tuned for many new additions to our Downey family in the next few months.
I want to reassure our Downey residents that we continue to remain fiscally sound and fiscally responsible. We have a balanced budget again, a great credit rating and history. Our property values continue to go up, we've had 436 new businesses open in Downey this year, we've helped create close to 8,000 new jobs in our city. Our future is bright and will continue to remain that way because of our City Council and our leadership team.
I am very proud of who we are as a community. But I'm excited about our future too. We have built a solid and strong foundation in our community and we will continue to thrive. And remember, I'm not going anywhere. I am still your councilmember and I am still here to serve you and our great city. I am still president of Independent Cities Association and I will make sure our local interests are protected from unfunded state mandates and laws that threaten our public safety.
I look forward to hearing from you. I am always available to you via my personal cell number at (562) 706-4114 or at city hall at (562) 904-7274. My email address remains email@example.com. Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving as the 44th mayor of the great City of Downey.
All my best, God bless.
Mayor Mario A. Guerra
Published: Dec. 5, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 34