This article originally appeared in the Friday June 21, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
City leaders are proud to announce Mission has been selected as a finalist for the 2019 All-America City Award (AAC). The city of Mission is one of only five Texas towns chosen for this prestigious honor.
“We could not be more proud to be hand-picked as a finalist. These are thriving American communities from the largest cities to the smallest towns, and it is an honor to be selected,” Mayor Dr. Armando O’caña said. “We represent the best this nation has to offer, and I congratulate our community for making it this far.”
The award, given to 10 communities each year, celebrates and recognizes neighborhoods, villages, towns, cities, counties, tribes and regions that engage residents in innovative, inclusive and effective efforts to tackle critical challenges.
Council member Jessica Ortega-Ochoa said that the idea to apply for the All-America City Award came from Mayor O’caña, who made this one of his campaign goals. This is the first time Mission has applied to the competition.
“It’s a great honor,” Ortega-Ochoa said. “Staff has worked really hard with coming up with the theme, practice and finding community members to come and give up their time so they can travel with us.”
Finalist communities include the 4th largest city in America (Houston, TX) to a city of only 3,500 people (Gothenburg, NE). The 20 finalists share a common bond of working to create healthy communities through inclusive civic engagement.
“These finalist communities are building healthy communities through collaboration with residents, businesses and other stakeholders,” said National Civic League President Doug Linkhart. “While many people are concerned about the ability of our nation to improve lives, these communities are showing that great things can happen at the local level.”
The City of Mission submitted a lengthy application that addressed such issues as economic development, health initiatives and building stronger neighborhoods.
“This is a huge accomplishment for the city of Mission,” said City Manager Randy Perez. “It is a fitting recognition of the work being done by our mayor, city council and the residents of our great community.”
The 20 finalist communities will compete tomorrow in Denver, Colorado to be recognized as one of ten All-America Cities for 2019. Each community will bring a team of residents, nonprofit leaders, business representatives, government officials and young people to participate in presentations and workshops for three days.
The 70th annual All-America City Awards will be held at the Hilton Denver City Center this weekend, and Mission will be competing with a 10-minute presentation tomorrow at 3:50 p.m. According to Ortega-Ochoa, city staff feel positive.
“We have a great energy amongst us,” Ortega-Ochoa said. “I think that we have put many hours of hard work and practice. The enthusiasm from the community is really good too.”
Ortega-Ochoa said that after they return (hopefully with a win) they plan to hold a festival in Mission.
“We have community members who are putting that together,” Ortega-Ochoa said. “I think we’re all really pumped up and excited to come back with a win.”
She added that the presentation, coordinated by Deputy City Manager Aida Lerma and the head of the Media Relations Department Roxanne Lerma, took a lot of effort to put together in an amazing way. The council member noted that the organizations highlighted in the city of Mission speak for themselves.
“We have a lot of great projects that we do in the city of Mission that involve and engage to help families and unite us,” Ortega-Ochoa said. “I personally would just like to show our beautiful city off to all the neighboring communities that are competing with us, because we’re something very unique and we’re going to take a piece of Mission over there.”
The 2019 spotlight for the award is efforts focused on inclusive engagement practices that create healthy communities for all. The 20 finalist cities include Mission, TX, Battle Creek, MI, Clinton, NC, Cornelius, OR, Doral, FL, Dubuque, Iowa, Edinburg, TX, El Paso, TX, Gothenburg, NE, Hallandale Beach, FL, Houston, TX, Livingston County, NY, Millcreek, UT, Ontario, CA, Pasco, WA, Rancho Cordova, CA, Rock Hill, SC, San Antonio, TX, West Hollywood, CA and Wichita, KS.