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San Jose councilwoman beats recall effort

March 3, 2009 | 10:57 pm

Madison Nguyen San Jose City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen will keep her council seat.

Nguyen, who faced a fierce recall campaign, won 55% of the vote with all precincts reporting. That count also included 9,500 vote by mail ballots.  Those early votes accounted for the bulk of all ballots cast Tuesday. 

Nguyen, the city's first Vietnamese American councilwoman, found herself in a fight for her political career when she refused to name the city's first Vietnamese shopping district Little Saigon, the name adopted by Vietnamese communities throughout the country as a symbol of anti-Communism. Her choice, Saigon Business District, outraged many Vietnamese American constituents who felt that she had betrayed their trust.

Her decision incited thousands to protest in front of City Hall and an activist launched a 29-day hunger strike. Eventually, the city council decided to let residents decide the district name.

Nguyen had hoped to move on, but instead, her opponents launched an aggressive recall campaign against her.

Recall backers believed that the majority of the city's Vietnamese Americans were against Nguyen. Nguyen, however, maintained that she still held her community's support and hoped to prove it on Election Day.

Vietnamese Americans make up about 30 percent of Nguyen's district. Both sides of the recall campaign heavily targeted white and Latino voters.

-- My-Thuan Tran

Photo: San Jose City Councilwoman Madison  Nguyen  during  Tuesday night's City Council meeting. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press