The seat is held by Councilman Luis Marquez, who has not announced whether he will seek reelection. Warren High alumnus and former professional baseball player Gabriel Orozco is also seeking to be elected to the city-wide seat.
The other four city council seats are elected by defined districts in Downey. The at-large seat is elected by the entire community.
Saab, 36, grew up in Downey and is active in civic groups all over the city. He holds leadership seats on the Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downey Museum of Art and the Downey Association of Realtors.
He ran for City Council two years ago, losing by about 270 votes to Councilman Fernando Vasquez.
Saab said he had no bad blood against Marquez, saying he wanted to help the community where he was raised.
Saab said that members of government sometimes forget that they are in office to act as advocates for the residents of a city, and that a good councilman is available to residents.
“I want residents to know that I realize that the purpose of a City Council, in many ways, is to be a check on government, not really to be part of the government,” he said. “I think it is a council’s job to be the eyes and ears of the citizens.”
The city made cuts to almost every department and gained concessions from its employee unions to trim an $11 million deficit from this year’s budget.
Saab said he would push for a frugal government that maintains city services, putting the highest priority on the preservation of the city’s police and fire departments. He also said Downey’s City Council should constantly examine itself to make sure it was pushing business-friendly policies.
“I think there’s this temptation to do something just because that’s the way it’s always been done,” he said. “That kind of thinking doesn’t work.”
Throughout his campaign, Saab will hold open meetings every Friday to have coffee with residents at different spots around the city. He’ll probably announce the meetings on his facebook page and twitter account, he said.
“The bottom line is that government is here to serve the people,” he said. “In every city, residents should feel like they have access to their government. Going into City Hall should not feel like a burden to anyone.”
The entrances of Saab and Orozco into the race could signal a major shakeup on the council. Councilman David Gafin is termed out of office, and Planning Commissioner Michael Murray is seeking his seat.
While there is rarely any public division on the City Council, Marquez has publicly bickered with Councilman Mario Guerra. The only real political fireworks the last year came up when Guerra opposed a ban on smoking proposed by Vasquez and supported by Marquez. Marquez accused Guerra of constantly going on his own while the rest of the council worked together. The two men argued from the dais for a short time before Mayor Roger Brossmer interrupted them and continued with other business on the council. The smoking ban passed 4-1.