EL CENTRO — El Centro Mayor Pro-tem Cheryl Viegas-Walker was launched into her fifth term as mayor during the city council’s reorganizational meeting Thursday evening.
As the audience applauded the actions, Viegas-Walker was nominated and unanimously voted in by council members to lead the largest city by population in Imperial County. Edgard Garcia was chosen as the next mayor pro-tem.
Following the end of his term as city mayor, Alex Cardenas was given recognition for his leadership. Deputy City Manager Marcela Piedra presented Cardenas with the traditional “album of events” that contained a compilation of accomplishments, including projects, activities, ribbon cuttings and ground breaking ceremonies among others, during his term as mayor of El Centro.
Certificates of recognition were also presented to Cardenas by representatives from the offices of State Senator Ben Hueso, Congressman Juan Vargas, and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia—56th District. Jeff Sturdevant, president of the El Centro Chamber of Commerce, spoke highly of Cardenas and city council members also took turns giving recognition to their colleague.
“I want to thank Alex Cardenas for an outstanding year and his gracious leadership,” said Viegas-Walker. “We have truly been blessed and had a mayor who is kind, polite, courteous, honest, and all around exceptional person. I think that gracious leadership is truly a gift. And Alex, we are so thankful for the year that we had you as mayor.”
Cardenas reminisced about his term. “It was very exciting and very fulfilling,” he said, adding that he is grateful for his colleagues at the city council, central staff and the community for holding the city council accountable.
Viegas-Walker said this will be her fifth term as mayor and 20th year with the city council. “I really appreciate the city staff and all of their hard work,” she said. “We’ve got an outstanding city staff. And I really appreciate, too, that they are residents in El Centro. I look forward to their participation in advancing the city of El Centro as gem of the Valley.”
Highlighting the transition of leadership for the evening was a report by Deputy City Manager Marcela Piedra. Piedra announced that Puente del Sol, LLC — owner of Valley Center Point Shopping Center where the current city library is located on Imperial Avenue — has donated 14.7 acres of land with approximately 103,000 square feet of building space to the city of El Centro.
The Valley Center Point Shopping Center was the former location of Sears, Mervyn’s and Millers Outpost and other retail shops. “This is a great opportunity for the city,” Piedra said.
Council member Jason Jackson noted, “This is a great sendoff for Cardenas and good kickoff for Viegas-Walker as she takes over the reins as mayor.”
The property donated to the city is valued at $8.9 million. “Christmas came early. Thank you to the owner for this generous gift,” Viegas-Walker said.
In addition, with funds allocated from Measure P, the city of El Centro will be able to upgrade public infrastructures, expand and upgrade parks and recreational facilities to have an “overall increase to the quality of life to its residents”, according the the “Argument in Favor of Ballot Measure P” posted on the city’s website.