Victor Lopez keeps name on community center ... at least for now

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The City of Orange cove began to write a new chapter in its history last year when it elected a new mayor to replace the iconic Victor Lopez. Wednesday night, Lopez sat and listened as community and council members discussed whether to remove his name from the town's community center.

Dozens of Orange Cove residents filled the community center bearing Lopez's name. Most who addressed the city council supported the former mayor and wanted the name to stand. "He has done so much for the city. There hasn't been another Hispano that has really been out there, as a leader," said resident Diana Guerra Silva.

The effort to rename the center started a couple of months ago when a petition was presented to the council. Those who want the name removed said Lopez is polarizing figure that has people so intimidated, they still won't speak against him. They want it renamed the Orange Cove Community Center. "The residents of Orange Cove use it, but we get the surrounding communities as well to use the center. I would rather it be named 'Orange Cove Community Center,' that way Orange Cove has something to be proud of and represent," said Orange Cove resident Monica Rosas.

Wednesday night, Lopez said he initially wanted the center named after Cesar Chavez, but said it would now be wrong to reverse the decision made in 1999. "At the time they were elected by the community, but the voters, they made a decision to name this after me. You don't disrespect that. That's unethical. That's unprofessional, that's discourteous. You don't do that," said Lopez.

The current city council failed to make a decision Wednesday. A motion by the new mayor to keep the name failed to get a second. So did a motion to change the name. The only motion to get a vote was to postpone the decision, three to two. The council members will now reconsider the issue in July.

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