There are two Vietnamese-Americans elected to Milpitas City Council. This is a small city nestled between San Jose and Fremont. The city population of about 77,000 people is split evenly among Vietnamese, Filipino, Hispanic and non-Hispanic White. The rest are mostly Chinese and Indian ethnic groups.
During the last election, as Mayor Richard Tran was campaigning for his mayoral re-election, Councilmember Anthony Phan under the pretense of South Bay SV Communication Coalition PAC sent a hit piece against Tran associating him with Vietnamese communist government. At first, there was denial but later, Phan was forced to admit that it was his own doing in support of another mayoral candidate, Bob Nunez, running against Richard Tran.
Tran promptly denounced Phan and called for his resignation by December 31, 2018 or he would personally recall him.
On the last day of the council session of 2018, Phan issued an apology in person to Tran:
There’s been something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time now. I wanted to wait until today, in front of your supporters, Mayor Tran. Unfortunately, I was hoping that I could have done this before we recessed, but that’s all right. I wanted to wait until today, in front of your supporters and the community, to say to you, Mr. Mayor, that I am truly sorry for the lines I crossed several weeks ago. It was a severe lapse in my judgment that I have no excuses for. I was by no means proud of it, and I take full, complete responsibility, and I am deeply sorry. I know many of you may find this difficult to believe, but I personally harbor no feelings of hatred towards you, Mayor Tran. I disagree with you on a host of issues, and you don’t need me to remind you of that. I’ve been very vocal, and I will likely remain that way. But I will limit the political disagreements to just that — political disagreements. Nothing more. I am committed to engaging in productive political discourse where we can agree to disagree and seek to find common ground where it exists. I apologize to your family, who I know are good people, decent people, and they are very proud of you, as they should be. You’ve accomplished greatly. And I want to say to them, and I’m sure you can relay this to them, that I apologize for my own lack of decency. And to the community: I was elected to serve. To the community that I love, and quite frankly, the community that I let down, I am truly sorry. I’ve learned greatly from this experience, and going forward I will return to the politics of optimism that inspired me into public service in the first place. And I will work tirelessly to regain your confidence. Lastly, I congratulate incoming Councilmembers Carmen and Karina on your successful elections, as well as you, Mr. Mayor, on your successful elections. And I look forward to working with each and every single one of you to better serve our residents. Thank you and I wish everyone here and their families good health throughout the holidays.
Tran did not respond to Phan's apology during the session. However, afterward talking to some of his supporters, he said the apology was too late and he still thinks that Phan should resign or be recalled.
This is not unexpected of Tran for he is well known for his bravado and self-serving attitude in the Vietnamese-American community.
With so many young Vietnamese-American being put in office by the Vietnamese American voters because they simply have the Vietnamese last names, it has been both a blessing and curse for the community.