An Immigrant Saga
About the Book
Mario A. Guerra escaped communist Cuba in search of the American dream, and while it didn’t come easy, he found it.
Through tragedies and setbacks, he discovered lessons that would guide him forward and serve as the foundation of his success, both professionally and personally.
In this memoir, he shares those lessons, along with intimate stories of his failures and successes. Each story is told with honesty and candidness, and every anecdote carries a message of hope and inspiration.
From a challenging childhood, family tragedies, life as a businessman, holding political office, life as a public servant, and his religious work and philanthropy—Mario shares wisdom gleaned from his wide range of experiences.
Mario’s experiences as a refugee gives us an opportunity to relate to immigrants who look to America as a beacon of hope.
About the Author
Mario A. Guerra came from Cuba to the United States on one of the first “Viaje de Libertad” (Freedom Flights) at the age of six and was raised locally. After majoring in economics at UCLA, he cofounded and was president of Scanlon, Guerra, Burke Insurance Brokers, named one of the top ten largest brokerage firms in Southern California by the Los Angeles Business Journal. The firm was also named one of the top one hundred brokers in the United States.
Guerra has been honored as “Agent of the Year” by several trade organizations and received a lifetime service award from his peers and Insurance Journal magazine for his commitment and dedication to his industry.
He was ordained a deacon, a member of the clergy in the Catholic Church in 2002 and had the distinction of being the only Catholic clergy member serving as an elected official in the country. He currently serves as chaplain of the Downey Police Department and is a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains. He was called and served in New Orleans and Houston after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
He serves in a ministry at Saint Linus Catholic Church in Norwalk, California, in Los Angeles and has served as a stational deacon at the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels. He and his wife Ann are cofounders of Angel Tree for Downey, which serves hundreds of needy children during the holidays. They also founded the Diakonia Foundation, which provides scholarships to local high school kids for community service.
Locally, Guerra is proud to serve on many of his favorite community organizations dedicated to making life better. These include Downey Rotary, YMCA, TLC, and West Downey Little League. He currently serves proudly on the US Army Advisory Board, representing LA Battalion Roughriders. He also serves on the board of Financial Partners Credit Union and the Living Tree Foundation, serving veterans.
As mayor of Downey, Guerra started and served as chairman of Downey’s Green Task Force and led an economic revitalization that has brought over 1,400 new businesses to Downey during his tenure and transformed the city from a former aerospace hub to a regional medical destination. Downey now has three hospitals and more than a thousand doctors. Mario was instrumental in promoting the city’s business culture in order to bring economic development to Downey. Downey was one of the finalists for Most Business Friendly City several times and was recognized by the National Civic League as one of ten All American Cities nationally during Mario’s tenure as mayor.
He is proud of helping to create over eight thousand new jobs (including four thousand high-paying medical jobs) in Downey. As a member of the budget subcommittee for eight years, he helped produced balanced budgets and grew the city’s reserves.
Mario helped facilitate the revitalization and planning of Downtown Downey and was instrumental in starting a farmers’ market, installing public art throughout the community (including the opening of Stay Gallery Downey, a local art gallery), and launching major infrastructure projects throughout the community.
A big believer in community service, Guerra attended more than 150 new neighborhood watch groups started in Downey and helped Downey to become a Character Counts community. He currently serves on the national board of directors for the Josephson Institute of Ethics.
Mario was elected to the Downey City Council in November 2006 with 64 percent of the vote and was reelected in November 2010. He served as mayor from 2008 to December 2009 and was sworn in as mayor again in December 2012. His Healthy Downey initiative helped bring attention and sustainability to health awareness issues confronting his community and region. He set himself as an example and weighed in at every council meeting for a year, losing eighty-five pounds in a twelve-month period.
He is proud to have been named Non-Partisan Elected Official of the Year for Los Angeles County and served as president of Independent Cities Association (representing seven million residents and fifty cities) in 2013 and 2014.
A respected public policy speaker, Mario has presented at forums and seminars involving best business practices, ethics in government, Latino policy engagement, healthcare, economic development and open government initiatives. He has been a keynote speaker at Loyola Marymount University, USC, Azusa Pacific University, and UCLA.
Dn. Guerra was appointed by Army Secretary Eric Fanning and currently serves as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army. He was sworn in at the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon in January 2017. He is the elected treasurer for the California Republican Party. Guerra is an author of many Op-Ed pieces that are widely circulated and published in several newspapers. He can be reached through his website, located at MarioaGuerra.com.
Mario; his wife, Ann; and their five children have proudly made Downey their home for over thirty-five years.