Nguyen Beats Back Recall Effort

Early results indicate an unlikelihood that the recall will be successful, but acknowledged results are not yet final

San Jose City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen is eager to move on  after a recall election Tuesday failed to oust her from her District 7  seat.
The measure to recall Nguyen fell short of the simple majority it  needed, garnering support from only 44.6 percent of voters who cast ballots  in the election, according to preliminary election results.

"I think it's time to turn the page and start a new chapter,"  Nguyen said today. "Given the results we received last night, I thought the  voters spoke loud and clear that they don't want another special election."

If the measure had passed, Nguyen, the city's first Vietnamese  council member, would have been only the second council member in the city's  history to be recalled.

Mayor Chuck Reed, who is in Washington D.C. until Thursday, had  supported Nguyen's efforts to fight the recall and was pleased with the  results of Tuesday's election, spokeswoman Michelle McGurk said.

"The mayor is delighted that it's been defeated, and looking  forward to (Nguyen's) continued service on the City Council," McGurk said.

"Now that the recall is over, we're hopeful the community will  join together, put this matter behind us, and turn its attention to  addressing the very critical issues facing District 7 and our city," McGurk  said.

The push to recall Nguyen began in 2007 when the City Council  approved a measure from Nguyen to designate the business district around  Story Road as the "Saigon Business District."

A large segment of the city's Vietnamese community immediately  began protesting the name, saying the area should be called "Little Saigon"  because that was the most popular choice in a survey done by the city's  redevelopment agency.

The protests grew to a point where an anti-communist crusader  famous in the Vietnamese community embarked on a hunger strike outside San  Jose City Hall.

A compromise was finally reached in March 2008 to allow the  "Little Saigon" name, with signage in the area paid for by supporters of the  name.

"It's unfortunate that a disagreement over a single issue has led  to the recall," Nguyen said. "At a time when the city's facing a $65 million  budget deficit, having to spend over a half million dollars on this election  isn't something the taxpayers wanted, and is not what the council wanted."

The "Recall Madison" campaign raised about $110,000 to try to  remove Nguyen from her council seat. Other than the "Little Saigon" naming  issue, the campaign had accused Nguyen of "backdoor dealings" with other  members of the council, poor management of taxpayer dollars and favoring big  business.

Campaign spokesman Andre Charles said recall supporters have a  "mixture of feelings" about the election results.

"First of all, we're disappointed with the final result of the  election," Charles said. "However, we're very proud because we took on a  sitting city councilwoman and the political establishment of San Jose, even  though we were outspent by over two to one."

Charles said he spoke briefly to Nguyen after the final votes were  counted Tuesday, and said she was "very gracious, which is definitely an  encouraging sign."

"Hopefully this will be an opportunity for both sides to have an  open dialogue," he said. "All along, this election was about improving  District 7, and having a councilwoman who's open to community input."

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