By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
With less than a month until Election Day, the honors are coming in for Mayor Margie Rice, who is retiring in December.
The Westminster City Council Wednesday approved a proposal to rename the theater located at the Westminster Rose Center the Margie L. Rice Theater. A plaque above the theater entrance displaying the new name will be installed.
“I want to honor Mayor Rice for her commitment to the community and to the center,” said Mayor Pro Tem Tri Ta, who initiated the proposal. “She is dedicated to the Rose Center and has been a good public servant.”
Rice has been a longtime advocate for and patron of the Rose Center and particularly its theater. She has been a member of the Rose Center Foundation’s board of directors since 2005. The annual Mayor’s Ball is held at the Rose Center and has raised over $400,000 for the center over the years.
Councilmember Tyler Diep supported Ta’s proposal despite previous clashes with Rice over funding for the Rose Center.
“You have given a lot to the center and without you it wouldn’t exist,” Diep said to Rice. “It’s a small token to name the theater in your honor, and I will vote for it.
Irma Hernandez, vice-president of the Rose Center Foundation, wrote a letter asking the council to postpone the vote. Changing the name would cost too much money and would take away current name recognition, Hernandez wrote.
However, Hernandez’s letter addressed the issue of changing the name of the entire Westminster Rose Center, not just the theater. Ta’s proposal asked for only a change to the theater name, currently known as the Rose Center Theater.
The center itself will remain the Westminster Rose Center. No current signs will be changed and only the plaque will be added.
Although the vote was about Rice directly, she did not have to leave the room during the discussion or the vote because there was no financial issue. Elected officials are not allowed to take part in discussions or votes concerning their own salaries or bonuses.
Rice and Councilmember Andy Quach abstained from voting. Quach said he supported the name change but felt the proposal as written caused confusion.
Councilmember Frank Fry, who is also retiring in December, was hospitalized Tuesday and could not attend the meeting.
The Westminster Rose Center offers banquet space for social and corporate events. The theater, run by artistic director Tim Nelson, produces both professional and student musicals throughout the year.