In Westminster, home is truly where the heart is.
The city’s new top leaders — it’s new police chief and newly-appointed interim city manager — were both raised locally and chose to spend their lives and careers here.
Chief Mark Lauderback was born and raised in Westminster and has spent his entire career at the Westminster Police Department, while Interim City Manager Sherry Johnson grew up next door in northern Huntington Beach. Twenty-eight years ago, Johnson moved to Westminster, just a mile from her family home, and shortly after that was hired at City Hall, where she’s worked for 24 years.
“It should give all residents, business owners, and visitors such confidence that our two new top leaders love our community so much that they have dedicated their lives and careers to ensuring Westminster remains a special place to live, work and play,” Mayor Tri Ta said.
Johnson served as finance director before being promoted in late January. She will take the reins from Eddie Manfro, who is retiring.
“I really like my job,” Johnson said. “I like the day-to-day balancing things and putting out accurate data for people to be able to rely on. It’s a challenge to get it right, and I enjoy that challenge.”
Among Johnson’s accomplishments: She helped guide the city through the financial challenge that led to the passage of Measure SS in 2016.
“Unfortunately, (Measure SS) expires in 2022,” she said, noting the city has had to be creative to continue funding the police department, water department, keep city parks nice, and hold events such as the summer concerts and the spring festival.
Manfro said Johnson was the perfect choice to succeed him because of her deep understanding of the city’s finances, staff and history.
“She knows the community like the back of her hand,” Manfro said.
Manfro also expressed deep confidence in the new police chief, who in January was sworn in.
Lauderback joined the Westminster Police Department in 1994, working patrol and worked his way through the ranks as a motor officer, detective, corporal, sergeant, commander, deputy chief, and now chief. Lauderback has a Bachelor’s Degree in police management as well as an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice.
He has won lifesaving awards, he holds the department’s record with 200 DUI arrests in a year, and he organized a fundraiser to pay for the funeral expenses of a 12-year-old killed in a car crash in 2014. He also led the development of the police department’s homeless liaison and school resource officer programs.
“Mark understands the community, he understands the department, and he feels an attachment to both,” Manfro said. “I think that makes him very effective and also makes him the type of chief the community can have a lot of confidence in.”
Lauderback is focusing on enhancing morale at a department that has budget for 92 officers but only currently employs 84.
“I want to focus on the department and focus on the people, because they’re our greatest asset,” he said. “If people are happy in the workplace, they’re going to do a good job. And that’ll spill out into the community.
He added “I think we do a great job with the community – we’ve taken care of the community for a long time – but right now, we need to take care of each other and we need to make this a fun place for people to get excited to come to work.”
At his swearing-in, Lauderback told his colleagues, “I will be there for you. I will support you and be your biggest advocate. I want you to focus on taking care of one another,” emphasizing his desire to make his department a happy and healthy workplace, starting with himself.
“I will always care for each and every one of you. Together we serve our community in the most noble profession and I pray for your safety every single day.”