Years before becoming a Westminster City Councilman, Sergio Contreras had to leave Disneyland behind. Having worked at the theme park since he was a freshman in high school, the time finally came for him to part ways in 2001. He had a life of public service in mind, and he had gained valuable lessons. Many of them came from his father, Sergio Contreras Sr., who was the first in the family to work at Disneyland after migrating from Mexico.
“My dad is actually still working there—for 43 years—as a janitor on the graveyard shift,” says Contreras. “Everything I do now comes from my dad. That ethic he taught me gave me the commitment, rigor and resilience to go to school and work full-time at Disneyland.”
And it gives Contreras the compass guiding him toward his next endeavor: seeking to represent District 1 on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. In looking at the 2020 election, he recalls his humble upbringing in an overcrowded one-bedroom apartment in Westminster.
Contreras’ father worked hard, saving up to move the family into a home in Westminster in 1984—the same year he took part in the “Friendliest Strike on Earth.” The job gave him enough to buy his son’s college books, but not pay tuition. Contreras worked at the theme park throughout college as a Plaza Inn cook and sharpened his leadership skills via HERE Local 681, his union at the time, while helping Ada Briceño become its president.
With a college degree in hand, Contreras turned toward the Westminster Unified School District next. He lost his first trustee bids before becoming school board president, a persistence he learned during his Disney days. Now, Contreras brings much union support with him to his current supervisor run, as well as the experiences he gained among Disneyland’s working-class. A focus on workforce housing is among his priorities, if elected.
“What’s missing from Orange County right now is a champion for working families,” says Contreras. “I have the experience of almost two decades of service on the school board and city council. I understand what it takes to be a champion for working families.”