DOWNEY — Luis Marquez displayed pride in his Mexican heritage and accomplishments of the city of Downey as he stepped down as mayor Dec. 8.
Mayor Pro Tem Alex Saab will become mayor in ceremonies Dec. 15 while Councilman Fernando Vasquez takes over as mayor pro tem.
Marquez noted three highlights — the opening of a 14-screen movie theater Dec. 10 and other businesses in the former NASA shuttle manufacturing site, a new hotel on Firestone Boulevard and plans for a sports complex on county land in the extreme southwest corner of the city.
Marquez, 43, started his message by noting he was born in Villanueva, Zacatecas, Mexico, and came with his parents to the United States when he was 4 in 1972.
“Only in this great country could a person rise from humble beginnings to mayor of this great city,” he said.
Shortly after his marriage in 2001, Marquez and his wife Alma, moved to Downey. They have 9-year-old twins Mai and Diego and a 3-year-old daughter.
First elected to the Downey City Council in November 2008, Marquez has 17 year of public service, both in private and governmental work, including experience as a legislative aide in the state senate and assembly.
He grew up in South Los Angeles and attended Cal State Northridge as a Chicano studies and film production major.
His comments ended with a reception and Mexican music by an all-female mariachi band.
In between he noted Downey’s accomplishments the past seven years, thanking staff and fellow council members, plus resident volunteers.
“Councilman [Roger] Brossmer and I came onto the council seven years ago and had a number of goals which have been met,” Marquez said.
It included surveillance cameras in Brookshire and Golden parks “to make families safer,” upgrading of major thoroughfares such as Firestone and Lakewood boulevards, rehabilitation on 52 residential streets, the opening of Portos Bakery (on Firestone), which “spurred downtown growth;” a new Champion Chrysler Dodge showroom on Firestone, remodeling of Penske Toyota and relocation of Downey Nissan to larger quarters, also on Firestone.
“Crime has been down the past five years,” Marquez said, praising the local police department and inserting a moment of silence for Officer Ricardo Galvez, 29, fatally shot in an apparent botched robbery Nov. 18 in the City Hall parking lot.
Marquez said he and his council colleagues plan to increase the police force and have parks patrolled by park rangers.
He also noted businesses opening in the Downey Promenade, a 77-acre site northeast of Imperial Highway and Lakewood Boulevard, formerly the site of Downey Movie Studios and before that home of NASA’s space program.
“24 Hour Fitness was the first to open Dec. 8,” he said. “The 14-screen 1 will open Dec. 10.”
Other new projects are the planned Springfield Suites by Marriott on city land at 9066 Firestone Blvd., a Vallarta Market on the site of the former Beach market on Imperial Highway and 117 townhomes on the site of the former Gallatin Medical clinic on Paramount Boulevard.
He said plans are progressing with Los Angeles County for a 14- to 17-acre sports complex on county-owned land at the city’s southwest corner south of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.