By Amir Ghani/Orange County Tribune
A new city manager has been hired in Westminster and just months after her arrival, has already found herself entrenched in small and large projects across the city.
Christine Cordon, who has 21 years of public service and six years of working with the City of Westminster under her belt – including a turn as city clerk – is the city’s first female, Vietnamese-American city manager. With such a diverse population in Westminster, one may have expected to see a Vietnamese-American take the position of city manager sooner, but until now, none have been represented in that the seat.
“There’s a gender and age disparity that has existed, especially in higher management positions. So for me to be a relatively young, minority female Vietnamese American, in a city that is as diverse as it is, but also maintaining some American roots, while embracing the Vietnamese culture, it just makes me really proud,” said Cordon.
Her gender and race aren’t what she wants people to remember her for, though, as Cordon has already started to make a positive change in Westminster. Her proposal to put ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding towards the building of a Navigation Center, a new shelter for the homeless to be located in Garden Grove, was just passed this October with a 5-0 vote by the Westminster City Council.
“I’m very excited, very proud of the effort that the three cities [including Fountain Valley] have put together toward the Navigation Center … it is definitely a proactive approach to addressing our homeless concerns. So ultimately, this Navigation Center is a tool for us, that we three cities can use to provide those that are in need with the services that they need immediately, so they’re not having to fight for bed space in another shelter that we don’t have control over,” said Cordon.
Westminster will help to fund the Navigation Center with $4 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Discussions about the center are still in progress, with a memorandum of understanding to be signed between the three cities involved soon.
Cordon is hopeful about the future of Westminster’s government, saying that “You no longer have people who have kind of have been with the city previously. You don’t have the same guard, right, the same mentality. We’re trying to be more progressive, we’re trying to be more like 2022 and less like 1995.”
Alongside Cordon’s more serious duties as city manager come other, lighthearted ones, like being able to host and set up public events for residents of Westminster. Just a few weeks ago, the city put on a Fall Festival, which was a success in Cordon’s eyes.
“The response for the Fall Festival, for Westminster standards, was well attended. And it was definitely well attended by community groups and our city staff as well … I guess people at some of the booths didn’t anticipate how many people would show up, so they were running out of goodies early on … We had some great performances, we had a band playing, and it was, you know, it was just a lot of fun,” said Cordon.
Next on Cordon’s agenda is the city’s annual Trunk or Treat event. Taking place on Oct. 28, families and residents from Westminster will have the opportunity to enjoy a family-friendly spooky film and some holiday themed refreshments. The event will start at 4:30 p.m. at the Westminster Civic Center.
Cordon is connecting the city’s older habits to the digital age by getting in touch with the public through social media.The city’s Instagram and Facebook pages are now used often to help promote upcoming citywide events.
With the 2022 election coming up, Cordon continues to look forward to what’s ahead for the city of Westminster. An upcoming vote on Measure Y – a one-cent sales tax – will either make or break city funds, a new mayor may be seated, and a decision on the Quang Tri Memorial may finally be made.
Regardless of all this activity within the city, though, Cordon is hopeful Westminster will remain above water financially, especially if Measure Y finds itself passed in the election.
“You know, we’re trying to keep the lights on, but also with this leadership, we are trying to advance and develop in ways that the city has not experienced on its own in 20 years. So that’s the notion that has been out there as well that residents and stakeholders have expressed that they feel like this is really the only shot or the best shot that Westminster has to progress.”