Nguyen gets to keep her seat

March 3, 2009 11:45:21 PM PST
The campaign to recall San Jose City Councilmember Madison Nguyen all started with what to call a stretch of Vietnamese-owned businesses. From there, it evolved into a much deeper disagreement, revealing the perspectives of older Vietnamese-Americans and the younger generations.

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The effort to recall Madison Nguyen is now officially over. Fifty-five percent of voters were not in favor of the recall and 45-percent were in favor of it.

Earlier on Tuesday night, there was a last minute push in a fight that's over a year old. The effort to recall San Jose City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen started in her own district, among her own constituents.

The recall effort began after Nguyen backed the name Saigon Business District instead of Little Saigon, for the Vietnamese shopping area along Story Road.

"That's really the last straw, it was a culmination of a long period of frustration about Madison's leadership on city council," said Andre Charles, from the Recall Madison Nguyen Campaign.

Those at the Recall Madison Nguyen Campaign also accuse the council woman of back door dealing, mishandling district matters, and irresponsible spending.

However, as far as Santa Clara University associate professor of political science and ethnic studies James Lai, Ph.D., is concerned the recall is entirely about Little Saigon.

"The challenge she faced was because she's of a younger generation. Those symbolic linkages to the homeland are not as strong because she's more acculturated," said Lai.

Lai says a major misstep Nguyen made was alienating her power base - the older Vietnamese voters who backed her from the beginning. Lai thinks if Nguyen had consulted with them about the business district name, rather than getting other constituents' input, the recall may have been avoided.

"No on the recall. Because I think we're spending too much money as it is," said Estelle Chavez, a voter.

"She's just not right for the community and for the people that she's supposed to be representing," Alfred Diaz, a voter.

Still, early results show more voters opposed the recall, which cost $500,000 to put on the ballot.

"People in District 7 are opposed to the recall, it's a waste of money, a waste of time, I'm happy people understand there are more things to do that really impact families in the district," said Nguyen.

Nguyen is celebrating and vowing to work with everyone in the community to get past this, including all of those who were involved in trying to get her recalled.

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