By Jim Tortolano
The Westminster City Council chambers was too small to hold all the rejoicing and good wishes expressed Tuesday night as the new city leaders were sworn in before a standing-room-only crowd.
Mayor Tri Ta and Councilman Sergio Contreras took the oath of office for another term, and Kimberly Ho was inaugurated as the newest member of the council. Family members, supporters and others took every available seat in the chamber, crowded the aisles and even flowed out into the lobby.
Ta, who turned back re-election challenge from current council member and former mayor Margie Rice on Nov. 8, was sworn in by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, spoke first.
“My agenda for the next two years to continue to work much harder to bring more businesses for get more revenue, to hire more police officers to patrol our streets, and to have more opportunities for the community to get involved with the city,” he said.
Contreras said, “I am honored beyond words. I dedicate my life to this city, to making a better life for all Westminster citizens.” He added that “I work hard because I see the potential in the city and I see the potential in its youth. I vow to keep Westminster moving forward and doing more with less.”
Ho, who fought back years during her remarks, said, “To my community, I heard you. You wanted change and not the status quo. We do have a lot of work ahead of us.
“The first thing is to fix the financial crisis we are in and to make sure the money you have entrusted us with is spent wisely and for meaningful services which are important for you,” she said. Ho defeated incumbent Diana Carey, who was not present at the meeting.
Voters approved a 1cent sales tax which is expected to raise an estimated $12 million a year. Westminster has been dipping into reserves and laying off employees for the past several years in reaction to an annual deficit of up to $6 million. The new tax will go into effect on April 1, 2017.