‘We did it baby’: Danny Ortega Jr. Douglas’ new mayorBy Trisha Maldonado
“We did it baby!” is how Douglas’ new Mayor Danny Ortega Jr. expressed his joy, and excitement to his wife Anne, on election night in Douglas last week.
Ortega was born and raised in Douglas, graduated from Douglas High School in 1980, and graduated from Cochise College in 1982 with an Associates of Science in Electronics. After graduating from Cochise, he moved to Kentucky where he joined IBM as a technician and was later promoted to engineer. In 1986 while with IBM Danny met and married Anne Taylor. In 1989 the family including their three children, Jamie, John and David, moved back to Douglas in order for Danny to assist in computerizing the Ortega family's business ventures. The family businesses are currently managed and staffed in part by Ortega, his mother, father, wife, brother and sisters.
That family environment according to Ortega has made everyone very close.
“I am very appreciative with the way my parents brought us up, they taught us that community involvement is very important,” he said.
As for his wife of 25 years, Ortega said, “everything is a partnership with Anne, and everything I do we do it as a team.”
Last year Anne was diagnosed with breast cancer and the Ortega's coped with the shock of the diagnoses and the hardship of chemo and radiation therapy. Anne is now cancer free but Danny attributes that as a time that strengthened their bond even more.
“It brought us closer together as a couple; we leaned on each other a lot,” he said.
Ortega has served the community in many ways; as a member of the Lions Club, Douglas Clean and Beautiful, Co-Chairman for the Lions Bingo, Cochise County Private Industry Council, Chamber of Commerce, the Douglas Unified School District Board for 12 years of which he was president for six years. He even recalled his Cub Scout days when his mother, Georgina, served as their den mother.
“I always liked politics; I grew up serving the community,” the new mayor said.
One of the major challenges Ortega feels need to be overcome is having the community come together again.
“Getting the community to work together again,” he said. “It seems like the community has been divided in the last few years, I hope to unite everybody and work towards the positives in the community.”
He also cited the importance of the Port of Entry expansion, the revitalization of the downtown area and securing more jobs for Douglas.
“EDC (Douglas Economic Development Council), has been working really hard to try to bring new businesses to Douglas and I hope we can partner with then to bring new jobs to the area,” Ortega said.
According to the new mayor the availability of jobs was one of the major concerns of constituents he spoke with during the campaign. Another issue raised by voters during the days leading up to the election was the condition of our streets.
“HURF funding has been cut but there are other options out there,” Ortega said. A portion of the City's sale tax is due to expire in the near future could possibly be directed to the replacement of some of the lost HURF fund. “We will continue to politic with our state representatives to return the HURF funding to equal levels as they were a few years ago,” he added.
Another big concern facing our community is VISA issues. Ortega stated that 50 percent of the City’s budget money comes from sales tax and if the city cannot get more customers from Mexico, it will severely impact the city. He went on to say that a lot of people in Agua Prieta that want to come to Douglas to shop are finding many obstacles with United States' policies. Ortega said he plans on working with our federal representatives to allow more legal shoppers to come and shop.
According to the new mayor, decisions that are made in Mexico City and Washington are done by people who are very far from Douglas and he is hoping he can unite Douglas as a community and partner with Nogales, Yuma and San Luis and see if together, they can build a partnership along the border and try to use strength and numbers to talk to our representatives.
Even though Ortega is in favor of more free following economic traffic between our two cities he feels efforts need to increase to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.
“I agree with stopping illegal immigration there is technology out there that we need to take advantage of we need to prevent illegal immigration,” he said.
Ortega also had words concerning his opponent in the mayoral race.
“I think he ran a good campaign I look forward to working with him in the future,” he said. “He has some nice ideas a lot of energy, enthusiasm and I hope he continues to be part of the community and to work together.”
Ortega looks forward to the challenges ahead of him and feels he has the support of the community.
“I’m starting to feel like the mayor.....a lot of congratulations by the community. I feel very well supported by the community,” he said.
Ortega will implement his business knowledge and love for the community when he official becomes mayor in June.
“My dad taught us to work hard and to the best that I can, as we always done, we always put our hearts in everything we do we always put Douglas first and that’s what I hope to continue to do,” he said.