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Little Saigon gets its first Vietnamese American mayor

November 7, 2012 |  3:52 pm

Tri Ta on the campaign trail in Westminster

In the weeks leading to his historic win, Tri Ta roamed Westminster City Hall, often hearing: "Hello, Mr. Future Mayor. This way, Mr. Mayor."

The six-year councilman would greet fellow workers with a salute or a handshake but didn't respond to the titles.

"I'm grateful to have the trust of so many people," he said during a gathering to help residents prepare for natural disasters. "I like having the chance to meet new faces."

After Tuesday's election, he'll have plenty of opportunity as the first Vietnamese American mayor in a city that gave birth to Little Saigon -- the largest Vietnamese district outside the country itself.

Ta, currently the city's mayor pro tem, won more than 42% of the vote in the five-candidate race.

On Wednesday, he continued making the rounds, visiting radio stations for interviews. He and his wife, Que Anh Doan, a pharmacist, are authors of three books of poetry. They live with their two daughters in the Mission del Amo mobile home park near Little Saigon.

In previous years, two other Vietnamese American candidates - Chuyen Nguyen and Andy Quach - mounted mayoral campaigns. But both failed.

Now Ta, 39, can claim victory. As he drove from one appointment to another after the election, buzzed on just a couple of hours of sleep, he reflected: "I'm so happy. The phone has not stopped ringing" with more than 100 callers, in addition to Facebook messages.

Ta, recruited for the job by current Mayor Margie Rice, said he's been learning the ropes by attending meetings in her place. He expects the next month to fill up with the details of transition, before taking the oath of office Dec. 12.

"She has guided me," he said of Rice, "and I want to continue her good work. I am thankful for the city staff, for my community members and for support across this whole city. I truly thank everyone."


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-- Anh Do

Twitter: @newsterrier

Photo: Tri Ta on the campaign trail in Westminster. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times.