Madison Nguyen recall, San Jose, California (2009)
Nguyen is one of ten city council representatives who sit on the San Jose City Council. She represents the city's 7th District, a position to which she was first elected in a September 2005 special election, where she won 63% of the vote and became the first Vietnamese-American to serve on San Jose's City Council.
Interest in the race was high, with a large number of absentee ballots cast. 7,100 absentee ballots were cast as of the March 3 election day, close to the number of votes cast when Nguyen was elected to her city council seat in 2005.
|Madison Nguyen recall election|
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Why the recall attempt?
Animosity toward Nguyen began when she declined to name San Jose's first Vietnamese shopping district "Little Saigon." "Little Saigon" is the name adopted by Vietnamese communities for Vietnamese shopping districts throughout the country. The name is a symbol of anti-Communism. Nguyen, instead, chose the name "Saigon Business District," a term that both differs from the terms used in other Vietnamese districts in American cities and does not have the same anti-Communist resonance. Nguyen's Vietnamese-American constituents thought she had betrayed their trust. The main energy for the recall campaign came from this community, which also staged weekly rallies and a 29-day hunger strike to protest Nguyen's choice of "Saigon Business District."
Opponents said the recall was not just about the shopping district name, but was also about Nguyen's record as Councilwoman:
- They pointed to an increase in crime and gang violence.
- They asserted that she had been a "poor steward" of city finances, noting San Jose's growing budget deficit.
- They said she was too cozy with developers.
- They said she had lost touch with her community.
In defending her record in office, Nguyen said her record showed a history of community improvement. She cited new neighborhood parks, a Vietnamese community center, 1,000 jobs at a shopping center at Monterey Highway and Curtner Avenue, and 700 new units of affordable housing.
Had she lost, Nguyen intended to run for her seat on the city council again in 2009. "Every single household knows who I am." Historically, council recalls have been rarely successful; only one of the last five recall votes has succeeded.
According to a report that covered 2009, Nguyen raised $34,925 to defend herself against the recall, adding to the more than $165,000 her campaign staff said she had raised in 2008.
Her opponents raised $100,144 from October 1 through January 17, mostly in smaller sums.
- Political recall efforts
- Political recall efforts, 2009
- Santa Clara County, California ballot measures
- Madison Nguyen's official city biography (dead link)
- Arguments for and against the recall
- San Jose Official Website
- Mercury News: "Race to oust San Jose Councilwoman Madison Nguyen heats up," Jan 22, 2009
- Los Angeles Times, "San Jose councilwoman beats recall effort," March 3, 2009
- San Jose City Council (dead link)
- New American Media, "High Voter Turnout Expected for San Jose Recall," March 3, 2009
- Santa Clara County March 3, 2009 election results
- Mercury News, "Recall of San Jose Councilwoman Madison Nguyen hurtles into last days," March 1, 2009