Waltham, a city he has fallen in love with, the best it can be.
In order to help the city reach a new level of greatness, Sazo, 40, said he will run for City Council at Large in the next municipal election in the fall of 2011.
Born in Guatemala, Sazo moved to New York with his parents when he was 6 years old.
He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and became a member of the oldest Latino fraternity, Phi Iota Alpha. Its mission is to foster leadership, said Sazo.
Through his involvement with the fraternity, he learned the importance of always being engaged in the community and has carried with him a sense of civic duty since his college days, he said.
Receiving his degree in electrical engineering, Sazo took a position with Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas. One year later, in 1997, he was transferred to the company’s Waltham office.
Sazo said he got to know Waltham and Moody Street, "and that’s where I can say the love started.”
Now, he’s an account manager in technical sales at STMicroelectronics in Lexington, but still lives in the city, blocks away from City Hall. He said he makes frequent trips to City Council meetings, sitting in the back of the council chamber and learning.
Becoming active in local community organizations, Sazo is now a member of the Waltham Lions Club, Latinos En Accion, and is planning to participate in a mentoring program.
Sazo wants to be a role model for kids, "who have been in his shoes.” He has a 9-year-old daughter, Trinity, from a previous marriage.
I have seen how the community is growing,” said Sazo, "and I would like to get involved and start seeing what I can do to help make this a better city.”
A year ago, as Sazo began to explore ways to become more involved, it was suggested to him to consider running for City Council.
"I could see that being a way to not only help put in my two cents,” said Sazo, "but to represent a community.”
Sazo said there is a "huge Guatemalan community” in Waltham and he would like to represent them.
In walking down Moody Street, Sazo said there are many great restaurants and shops, like Tempo and Moody Street Nutrition Center, two favorite places he shares with his girlfriend, Rosemary Lopez.
But there are also many empty storefronts along Moody Street, said Sazo.
"Waltham is starting to look empty,” he said, and he plans to tackle business development.
"We are wavering at a point where we really need to engage some businesses,” he said.
Small businesses are important, he said, and making it easier for those businesses to choose to move into the city is one way to create a more vibrant business community. Helping businesses start up "organically” within the city is another way, said Sazo.
In speaking with small business owners, Sazo said he’s heard they find it "tough” to start a business in town. Applying for permits can be complicated, said Sazo, creating too much red tape.
"If you develop business strategically you will create jobs for the city, increase tax revenue, and will bring in more outside tourism,” said Sazo.
"The role of the councilor is to look for the best interest of the community,” said Sazo, "and making sure that what you are voicing is reflective of the population you represent.”
Sazo said his approach will be "simply to look for win-win solutions.
"I negotiate deals for my company and my customers,” he said. "Let’s look at what will make sense for the city, but what will also work for businesses or individuals.”
Sazo said as a city councilor, he "will keep his hand on the pulse of the people” by making himself available to the community 24/7.
"My office hours will be all the time,” he said.
Sazo said he also believes councilors should have term limits, whether self-imposed or mandated.
"We should keep it fresh,” he said. While serving as a councilor, Sazo said he would look for future leaders and help groom them as possible candidates for the council down the road.
Sazo said he wants to help educate citizens regarding the functions of city government, perhaps by offering free workshops or speaking to high school juniors and seniors.
"More people would be engaged in the community, if they knew how government was run,” he said.
Improving accountability and accessibility of public records online is another of his goals, and he wants to use volunteer efforts to do so. He said many projects, such as adding records online or improving a website, don’t have to come from city funds.
There are many citizens in Waltham, said Sazo, who would be willing to donate their talent, expertise, resources and time to making the city a better place.
Sazo said he would not take any health benefits offered to him if elected to the council.
With the support of Lopez, "his sounding board,” who will serve as his campaign manager, and that of others around the city, Sazo said he has begun his campaign by talking to as many people, businesses and organizations as he can.
"I want to make people proud of Waltham,” he said, "by being part of the solution.”
Sazo’s website, www.sazo4council.com will launch on Friday, Jan. 7. He can be reached at 781-412-4098 email@example.com.
Jen Judson can be reached at 781-398-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.