The Tricentennial Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved the appointment of Assistant City Manager Carlos Contreras as its executive director tasked with planning and executing the commemoration of San Antonio’s 300th anniversary. He will retain some of his responsibilities with the City’s Aviation and Sports Facilities and Convention departments.

Contreras has been leading the Tricentennial effort since Edward Benavides stepped down in November 2017, but Wednesday’s vote officially removed “interim” from his title.

Earlier this month, City Manager Sheryl Sculley sent a memo to City Council members and the mayor outlining the Commission’s desire to keep Contreras through 2018. She also announced that Benavides no longer works for the City.

“… Sculley’s decision to appoint Carlos Contreras as director of Tricentennial was a game changer,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wrote in a letter to Mayor Ron Nirenberg on Tuesday. “I had a visit with him yesterday and we have worked out how County events will fold into the other Tricentennial events. He has brought stability and leadership to the organization.”

Elected officials have credited Contreras with turning around the financially and administratively struggling nonprofit that seemed headed for a flop under Benavides’ leadership. Now, after a largely successful New Year’s Eve celebration, Contreras is turning his attention to the rest of 2018.

“I’m pleased that the commission wants to keep Carlos on the team. He is a strong leader and capable manager. Carlos has an established record of managing complex organizations and issues,” Nirenberg said. “He will do a fantastic job.”

Commissioners also reviewed a streamlined list of events that will be highlighted throughout 2018. Out of the more than 700 events listed on the official calendar, staff selected 83 that were deemed specific to the Tricentennial commemoration and will, therefore, benefit from marketing efforts.

More will be added – and some possibly removed – from that list as staff receives feedback from commissioners, Contreras said. At least one event hosted by Bexar County was identified as missing from this list, while others lack event details that will be clarified later.

Click here to download a spreadsheet of the preliminary list of events the commission will promote.

Official events are still being finalized for the May 1-6 Commemorative Week that will surround the city’s founding date – May 5, 1718.

“A number of items are already funded, and there are some that are not,” Contreras said.

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at