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Madison Nguyen

Madison Phuong Nguyen (born 1975) is an American politician from California.[1][2] She served on the San Jose, California, City Council from 2005 to 2014, representing District 7, and she additionally served as Vice Mayor from 2011 to 2014. She was the first Vietnamese American elected to the council.[3] In April 2015, Nguyen declared her candidacy for the California Assembly representing District 27.


  • Early life 1
  • Political career 2
    • School board 2.1
    • City Council 2.2
      • District naming controversy and recall attempt 2.2.1
    • 2014 mayoral campaign 2.3
    • 2016 State Assembly campaign 2.4
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Early life

Born in Vietnam to Nho and Dang Nguyen, Madison and her family escaped Vietnam on a small fishing boat when she was four years old. Her family then settled in various refugee camps in the Philippines until a Lutheran church sponsored them to Scottsdale, Arizona. Her father worked as a janitor, receiving a stipend of only $500 a month to support his wife and children. Eventually, he moved his family to Modesto, California, in search of employment for his family in the Central Valley. Madison worked in the fields alongside her parents as a teenager.[1] She is one of nine siblings.[4]

Madison received her Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received a Master's degree from the University of Chicago. She returned to California in 2000 to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology at UC Santa Cruz but did not complete the program.[2]

Political career

School board

Nguyen began to become more involved in politics in 2001, while working as a sociology instructor at De Anza Community College;[4] inspired by

  • Campaign homepage
  • Official page on the San Jose city government website
  • What's Happening in San Jose Vietnamese Community from the Vietnamese American Council; contains several news stories on Madison Nguyen
  • This American Life - Episode 381: Turncoat Prologue and Act One is about Madison Nguyen and the district naming controversy

External links

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  24. ^ Nora Campos
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In April 2015, Madison Nguyen announced her intention to run for California State Assembly District 27,[23] an open seat being vacated by term-limited Nora Campos.[24] The Primary election is in June 2016, to be followed by a November general election, which will coincide with the next presidential contest. Nguyen began rolling out her campaign platform soon after her announcement. Her first significant proposal was to support a new University of California campus, and to locate it in San Jose.[25] Her first notable endorsement came from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.[26] Other declared candidates include San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra[27] and Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Darcie Green.[28]

2016 State Assembly campaign

Nguyen announced in 2014 that she was a candidate for mayor.[21] She came in third in the June 2014 primary election to select the top two candidates for the November general election, with 21% of the vote, thereby ending her campaign.[22]

2014 mayoral campaign

On March 4, 2008, the city council voted to rescind the "Saigon Business District" name, but stopped short of renaming it "Little Saigon". Instead, they proposed setting up a process by which business owners could choose district names.[17] However, anger against Nguyen remained. On April 22, 2008, the issue was reopened with the submission of recall papers against Nguyen by the Recall Madison Nguyen committee.[18] On October 9, the petition qualified for the March 3, 2009 ballot, having garnered more than 150% of the needed valid signatures.[19] On March 3, 2009, voters rejected the recall attempt with a 55-45% vote. A year later, Nguyen won re-election and in 2011, she was nominated by Mayor Chuck Reed and was approved unanimously by the city council to be Vice Mayor. She is also the first Vietnamese Vice Mayor in the history of San Jose.[20]

[16][15] However, support for the "Little Saigon" name was not unanimous. On February 12, 2008, hundreds of local Vietnamese American residents, prominent businesspeople and anti-communists among them, also issued a statement emphasizing that the "Little Saigon" supporters did not represent them. That same day, Nguyen and Reed proposed putting the issue to a public referendum, in an effort to mollify critics. However, this proposal was withdrawn ten days later due to the estimated cost of $2.7 million and the fear that the vote would prove even more divisive to the community.[14][13] even started a hunger strike out of anger at the "Saigon Business District" name, which lasted for 28 days.Ly Tong Activist [12] Backlash against Nguyen continued to grow throughout January. She was not invited to attend the annual

Nguyen's support from the Vietnamese American community suffered a sharp reversal in early January 2008, in a controversy over whether an area of a Story Road in her council district with a large percentage of Vietnamese retailers should be named as "Little Saigon" or "Saigon Business District". Little Saigon is a common name used for various other Vietnamese-American commercial enclaves, particularly known in Orange County, California. Nguyen suggested the name "Saigon Business District" after she heard from different groups in her council district who wanted the word "New" to be included in the name, indicating a new life in America after they left their homeland.[10] Supporters of the Little Saigon denounced Nguyen as a traitor to the community because she did not support what they deemed as the "majority" of the Vietnamese community supported, which was "Little Saigon." Mayor Chuck Reed stated that supporters of the Little Saigon name "are the most vocal, but may not be the majority"; fellow council member Judy Chirco went farther in her criticisms, complaining after the January 8 meeting and vote on the issue that "I have heard more disrespect tonight than I ever thought I would hear from the Vietnamese community". Both refused to retract their statements when pressed.[11]

District naming controversy and recall attempt

In September 2005, she decide to run for city council in a special election to replace Terry Gregory in District 7.[3] Vietnamese Americans, who formed less than 10% of San Jose's population at the time, turned out in record numbers during the primary election in June to support Madison Nguyen and Linda Nguyen, pushing them ahead of seven other candidates.[8] Madison Nguyen won 44% of the primary vote, while Linda Nguyen, a real estate attorney, received 27%.[9] In the end, Madison Nguyen received 62% of the votes cast, beating out Linda Nguyen to become the first Vietnamese American to serve on the San Jose City Council.[3]

City Council


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