Westminster Councilmember Sergio Contreras Now Accepting Nominations for 2018 Veterans of Distinction

Westminster, CA — Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras has announced the second annual Day of Service Honoring Those Who Served on November 3 by accepting nominations for Distinguished Westminster Veterans. The event will feature a ceremony to recognize distinguished Westminster Veterans nominated by their peers, following a community cleanup of the Hoover Street Trail – showing respect for the streets our Veterans fought to protect with their honorable service in the armed forces.

“Veterans are an important part of this community,” Councilman Contreras said. “Events like these give our families a chance to come together and honor the sacrifices that our service members and their families have made for all of us.”

To nominate a Westminster Veteran, email their name, age, Westminster address, and a brief description of their service to scontreras@westminster-ca.gov .The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, October 29, 2018. For more information please contact Councilmember Sergio Contreras at (714) 606-1644.

The event will include a community clean up of Magnolia St. (all cleaning materials will be provided) starting at 8:00 a.m., followed by a recognition ceremony for local veterans nominated by their neighbors and peers at 10:00 a.m.. The celebration will culminate with a hot dog and hamburger bar-b-que that is open to the community.

While in the initial planning stages, Councilman Contreras is already excited about the responses he has been receiving from the community. “It is great to see the Westminster community come together and rally behind our heroes. I want to make sure that we reach and recognize as many of our Westminster veterans possible to thank them for the sacrifices they’ve made to protect the freedoms we enjoy.”

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Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras Leads Initiative To Install Outdoor Exercise Equipment In Parks at No Cost To Taxpayers

Continuing his trend of doing more with less, Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras secured $250,000 in grant funding for the purchase and installation of Greenfield exercise equipment in three parks in the City of Westminster.

The first of three installations was completed and celebrated with a ceremonial ribbon cutting at Westminster Park Wednesday. The other two locations are expected to identified and competed by early next year.

“I wanted to create opportunities to increase physical activity and improve health and wellness for our community, especially those that do not can afford a gym membership, but I did not want to utilize general fund dollars that money is better spent on public safety and education,” Contreras said at the ribbon cutting for the new outdoor exercise equipment at Westminster Park Wednesday. “Instead I requested that we use Federal Community Development Block Grant funding for the new free outdoor community gyms at three of our City’s parks. Luckily, I was able to win unanimous support from my colleagues on the Council for this idea.
Thanks to Contreras’ advocacy and vision, the City was able to allocate the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) fund, one of the longest-running programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to complete the project.
The equipment at Westminster Park is open to the public and available for use immediately.

“This is another example of what can be done when leaders do their jobs responsibly,” said Lena Nguyen, a Westminster resident. “Now we have an improved community without a politician asking for a hand-out from residents. I can’t wait to utilize this equipment and see others in the community benefit from it too.”

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Efforts Begun To Create Monument Honoring Historic Mendez V. Westminster Case

WESTMINSTER, CA – The City of Westminster today opened the doors to collecting donations to produce a Mendez v. Westminster School District memorial statue honoring the historic anti-school segregation case that was a precursor to Brown v. Board of Education. The memorial will be part of the Mendez Tribute Monument and Educational Trail project, which will connect the Hoover Street bike trail via a series of trail markers to a park featuring a statue honoring the civil rights court case with historic roots in the City of Westminster. The City will be accepting donations for the monument effort via www.MendezTribute.com.

“The case of Mendez v. Westminster impacted us all, yet most residents have never heard about it,” Westminster Tribute Monument Committee Founder and Westminster City Councilman Sergio Contreras said. “This case paved the way for later decisions that would end school segregation once and for all in our nation. By reminding people that equality is what ultimately leads to the end goal we all seek – a society where people succeed and are judged based on their merits rather than on their skin tone or affluence – we can work to progress in that direction. By building this statue and park, we hope to further expand Westminster’s profile as a national leader and solidify its civil rights legacy in the minds of residents and visitors.”

The 1946 court case, Mendez v. Westminster School District, had an immediate impact on California and put a human face on the legacy of racism and potential psychological costs to American children. The Mendez case centered around 13 families joining together to argue that segregating schools violated the 14th Amendment as an unconstitutional denial of equal protection.

During the suit, the school district countered the plaintiffs by arguing that Mexican American children were inferior to Anglo-American children, carried contagious diseases, and were limited by their “language deficiency.” The Mendez case was ultimately heard by the state and federal court. The verdict delivered declared these separate “Mexican Schools” unconstitutional. That decision paved the way for Civil Rights Legislation nationwide.

The Mendez Tribute Monument will be designed by famed artist, muralist and sculptor Ignacio Gomez, who also created the Cesar Chaves Memorial Statue in downtown Riverside, and will ultimately rest in a new park approved by the City earlier this month. The park sits at the intersection of Westminster Blvd. and Olive Street, near the head of the Hoover Street bike trail, which will be lined with historical markers gradually telling the story of the case to those progressing toward the memorial along the bike route.

The Mendez Tribute will feature bronze sculptures of two children of differing races walking together, books in hand. One child has his arm outstretched before him pointing toward the future. The sculptures will also feature a full body depiction of Gonzalo Mendez, overseeing the children’s’ journey toward a brighter future. Behind the children will be a large book with text inscribed on the “pages” outlining the history of this monumental achievement. Surrounding the circular-shaped memorial there will be benches, for the community to gather and take in the significance of this historic achievement. Nameplates will be available on the benches for donors who contribute above a certain threshold.

The Westminster Heritage Memorial aspires to begin construction in 2019 and will not use city general fund dollars. In order to reach this target, $100,000 must be raised by March 31, 2019. Donations are being accepted at www.MendezTribute.com.

If you or someone you know would like donate toward this valuable cause, please send checks in any amount to City of Westminster, c/o Westminster Heritage Memorial Fund, 8200 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, CA 92683.

All donations are tax deductible. Donations in amounts over $1000 will receive special recognition at the memorial site or an inscription of their name on the memorial itself.

Further information and renderings of the site can be found at www.MendezTribute.com.

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Four Westminster Veterans Honored and Streets Cleaned During 1st Annual Westminster Veterans Day of Service

Westminster, CA – On November 5, 2017, Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras honored 4 local veterans today during the first annual Day of Service Honoring Those Who Served today. The event featured a community clean up of Hoover Street followed by a recognition ceremony, aimed at showing respect for the streets our veterans fought to protect with their honorable service in the armed forces.

“I wanted to bring the community together in a day of service to honor those who have served our country,” Contreras said while picking up trash along Hoover Street. “This way we can show respect for the homeland that these brave men and women risked their lives to protect. Our veterans deserve the best and today we get to show them our respect for their contributions.”

The Day of Service Honoring Those Who Served was attended by 60 community members who joined forces to clean up 2 ½ mile stretch of Hoover Street – removing debris, and trash along the thoroughfare.

Following the community cleanup, Councilmember Contreras led a small ceremony honoring 4 local veterans, including: Andy Timko, B.J. Savage, Gabriel Sanchez, and James Harold Goble

Andy Timko – US Army, Vietnam War Veteran, Infantry 1st log unit

BJ Savage – USMC, Korean War Veteran

Gabriel Sanchez – USMC, 4th Light Armored Recon Battalion –Deployed 2003 Operations Iraq Freedom.

James Harold Goble – 97-year old WWII Veteran –Prisoner of War, Purple Heart recipient. Government of France recently awarded Legion of Honor award

The ceremony was followed by a complementary bar-b-que funded by Concilmember Contreras to reward the attendees of the event.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the turn out,” Contreras said. “This small thank you is the least we can do to show our gratitude for our Veterans and show respect for the City we call home.”

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Sergio Contreras Receives Endorsement from Westminster Police Officers Association

WESTMINSTER, CA – Today Westminster Mayor Pro Tem Sergio Contreras received a strong endorsement from the Westminster Police Officers Association for his re-election campaign.

“Mayor Pro Tem Sergio Contreras has been a strong supporter of Westminster Police, and has been with us every step of the way in the fight against gangs and crime.   He has earned our support and our thanks,” President of the Westminster Police Officers Association Mike Ogawa said. “The members of the Police Officers Association will be voting for Sergio Contreras this November and we ask you to do the same”

In his first four years serving on Westminster’s City Council, Contreras successfully made the city safer by installing emergency call boxes in all Westminster parks, cleaning up blighted areas of the city by constructing bicycle and walking trails, and initiating work on the City’s first ever Parks Master Plan.  Contreras was also instrumental in securing the funding to renovate the City’s Family Resource Center, which offers free services to local families and offers area youth a safe place to congregate after school and on weekends.  

“I am proud to stand with and support the men and women who are out every day putting their lives on the line to protect Westminster families,” Councilman Contreras said, “I am truly honored to have the support of the Westminster Police Officers Association.  We have a shared vision of making this city safe and prosperous for all of its residents.    I plan to continue to work hard every day to make Westminster an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Mayor Pro Tem Contreras has also been endorsed by Westminster Mayor Tri Ta.

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Westminster‘s Blueprint to Prosperity

Westminster’s budget deficit has me, like the rest of our residents, concerned for the future of our City. While sitting at the Westminster General Plan Update meeting on Saturday, I heard the public and our General Plan Advisory Committee’s worry that some of the goals and objectives outlined within the document would be placed on indefinite hold due to a lack of funding. Our city cannot afford to stay stagnant. We need to keep working to make our goals into reality.

When I lead the effort to draft the Westminster General Plan and Parks Master Plan four years ago, our City’s financial situation was far less dire. Today, with a $12 million structural deficit, we face a dim reality – we need to do more with less.

As I listened to the Committee’s concerns, my wheels got turning. How can we take all of this nervous energy and channel it into a mechanism that can propel Westminster toward a stronger future? And then it hit me – I would appoint an Economic Development Action Task Force.

Businesses boost us all. They provide jobs for our residents. They assist in cleaning up our neighborhood’s streets. And most importantly, they provide much needed tax revenue for the City. Attracting new business to Westminster should be our top priority – and I intend to make it so.

That is why I asked my fellow Councilmembers to consider a motion that would create a task force meant solely to explore attracting new business and new revenue to the City of Westminster. Thankfully, this motion passed unanimously at our last City Council meeting. At no cost to the taxpayer, this committee will shift the focus away from the planning process and place it squarely on implementation.

While the General Plan is our blueprint to the Westminster of the future, finding a means of implementing these lofty goals is paramount to the General Plan’s success.

With this new motion, we will shift the focus of the General Plan Advisory Committee to that of boosting the economy through acting on the Economic Development Action Task Force. Since all members are voluntary, they will cost the City nothing, and bring us all immeasurable returns.

The Task Force will provide guidance to City staff at strategic milestones in the General Plan’s implementation process and assist in the implementation of the General Plan’s goals, policies and objectives. They will bring view points and perspectives for the community’s various stakeholder groups into the decision-making process, and assist us in developing creative solutions to our budget shortfall.

Through this group, we can ensure that the lofty goals outlined within our General Plan are not lost or forgotten. It shows that although we have limited finances, our City will not remain stagnant. As a Councilmember I have worked hard to bring much needed services to our city at little to no cost to the taxpayer. This Task Force is one more example of that creative thinking – the creative thinking that will protect our City’s vitality throughout this budget crisis.

I urge my fellow councilmembers and the community to support this new Task Force and apply for a position to help make Westminster stronger. Together we can do more with less. To showcase your support for the creation of the Westminster Economic Development Task Force or apply for a position on the group email sergio@sergiocontreras.com.

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Hoover Street – From Blight to Hope

An un-kept atmosphere and sidewalks littered with trash used to be what greeted people traveling down Hoover Street. Now, for two miles between Garden Grove Blvd. and Bolsa Ave., drivers, bikers and pedestrians see a beautifully landscaped recreation corridor where families play together in safety.

When I began my journey down Hoover Street, it was being used as a garbage dump, with large items, garbage bags, and clothing littered everywhere. Overgrown vegetation had begun to consume the bike trail with oleander branches and debris overtaking and obstructing the path, breaking up the asphalt and creating an uneven trail. Some roots had caused cracks the rose 4-5 inches from the ground making conditions unsafe for the public and opening the city up for liability. Some areas along Hoover where used off-and-on as homeless encampments. As a result, areas smelled of urine. The abandoned Bike trail had become an eyesore over years of neglect.

Blight complaints from community members flooded my inbox. As Westminster’s Vice Mayor, I often receive notes from constituents about things they’d like to see improve in the City. But this project really stuck with me. Even after I had some large refuge removal done, I could see the potential in the space. See, I pass Hoover every day when I take my two kids to school. And every day that I drove that street, I saw more and more potential.

One of my main goals for Westminster is to provide more outdoor recreational opportunities for families. That is why I created the Westminster Parks Master Plan, and why I decided to not just dispose of Hoover Street’s trash, but to transform it into a walking and biking trail for families to use as recreation and transportation.

So I set out to change things. I organized with community members and obtained 200 signatures in support of revitalizing the Hoover Street Trail. Then I convinced my colleagues on City Council to join with me in transforming this once forgotten space. I placed a resolution on the Council Agenda and ignited the spark that led to the Hoover Trails shining as bright as they do today.

Utilizing funding from the State Redevelopment Funds, to prevent them from being absorbed back by the State, and funding currently available in the municipal lighting district fund and park dedication fund, we were able to complete the trail’s transformation at no cost to the city’s general fund.

When all was said and done, the area was completely overhauled. Featuring 283 new trees, shade and landscaping elements; 200 security lights; 13,700 drought tolerant plants; mulch and gravel; new fencing; a new irrigation system; and new cement, new striping  and resurfacing along the two mile path.

What is most important is that we do all that we can in order to ensure that Hoover Street stays the neighborhood gem it has become. I have already instructed staff to look for additional ways that we can obtain grants to further drive down costs of maintaining it and even generate funding to improve more areas of Westminster.

The first taste of this grant funding comes on May 21 during the Experience Hoover Event. City staff applied for and received a grant from Southern California Association of Governments’ Active Transportation Safety and Encouragement Campaign and received approximately $30,000 in hard costs for the event. This event will celebrate that milestone. I encourage you to bring your family and friends down to the Hoover Street Trails and experience the transformation in person. I encourage everyone to see what is truly possible in our City when we dedicate ourselves to a cause together.

For me, this cause has inspired a greater desire to improve even more areas of Westminster – to create a family-friendly, safe city where new business take root and crime rates take leave – and instilled within me a hope that working together with the Council and our Community, we can achieve even more progress for Westminster.

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