Thursday, November 3, 2022

Coalition Against Red-baiting and Race-baiting in San Jose Political Arena





Last week, the Silicon Valley Biz PAC issued a mailer attacking Supervisor Cindy Chavez by falsely claiming that she is “trying to silence the Asian American community in San José” in addition to using a darkened photo of her in the hit piece. The undersigned members of the REAL Coalition and allies unequivocally condemn this racist mailer from Silicon Valley Biz Political Action Committee (PAC) and call for all PACs, political operatives, and candidates to stop using dog whistles, baseless claims, and outright lies to try to confuse, manipulate, and exploit the general public.


This race-baiting tactic has been used before in 2016 and 2020 when Councilmember Sergio Jimenez’s and Sylvia Arenas’ faces were darkened in campaign mailers. SVOPAC also used race baiting to attack Candidate Jake Tonkel by using a photo of Black men from South Africa to scare voters, which led to the dissolution of the Silicon Valley Organization PAC (SVOPAC), the resignation of their longtime CEO, and a months-long restructuring process of the once “San José/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce.” Rather than learning from the mistakes of its predecessor, the Silicon Valley Biz PAC uses abhorrent race-baiting tactics and exploits an entire community for political gain.


The mailer in question darkens the face of Supervisor Chavez and attempts to victimize the Asian American community in San José by driving the narrative that Asians are being targeted for political oppression. It attempts to instill fear in us by turning a candidate into an enemy. It weaponizes the issue of Asian representation to target a woman of color.  This is on top of several other instances of inflammatory tactics used in this election cycle: in-language comments using racial stereotypes of Mexican Americans and crime made by an East Side Union School Board Trustee that the above-mailer references; a mailer sent by San Jose council candidate grouping three white women in contrast to two men of color, “portray[ing] white women as innocent and virtuous and men of color as dangerous and predatory.” These actions are unacceptable and must be addressed in written and community fora.


We are angry. We are angry at how political strategists can so easily try to manipulate our communities. We are angry at how politics is the justification for race-baiting. We are angry at how special interests who have never paid attention to our representation are now using this issue to drive communities of color apart.


A tenet and tactic of white supremacist logic is to divide and conquer – to pit communities of different racial and ethnic backgrounds against one another in an attempt to distract them from broader issues that uphold oppressive institutions. Power does not have to be a zero-sum game. We gain true power in working together, not in tearing each other apart. This is why the REAL (Race Equity Action Leadership) Coalition was created - to practice and advance racial justice through a coalition of nonprofit leaders, committed to learning, advocacy, and organizing while building power in authentic community solidarity.


We refuse to be pitted against other communities of color in political gamesmanship. We are not your model minority nor are we pawns. We choose solidarity!


Organization Signatories (to sign on behalf of an organization, type in your name, title, and organization)


Angelica Cortez, Executive Director, LEAD Filipino

Angelica Ramos-Allen, President, National Women’s Political Caucus of Silicon Valley

Anna Nguyen, Co-Executive Director, Friends of Hue Foundation

Bao Trieu, President, Vietnamese Voluntary Foundation (VIVO)

Darcie Green, Executive Director, Latinas Contra Cancer

David Mineta, Executive Director, Momentum Health

Diane Fisher, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council

Jahmal Williams, Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet of Silicon Valley

Jean Cohen, Executive Officer, South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council

Josh Selo, Executive Director, West Valley Community Services

Felicia Gershberg, Co-Lead, Together We Will - San José

Kyra Kazantzis, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits

Lam Nguyen, Co-Chair of Orchard City Indivisible and Board President of EM Collective

Mimi Nguyen, Executive Director, Step Forward Foundation

MyLinh Pham, CEO & Founder, Asian American Center of Santa Clara County

Nassim Nouri, Green Party of Santa Clara County Councilmember

Philip Nguyen, Executive Director, Vietnamese American Roundtable

Quyen Vuong, Executive Director, International Children Assistance Network (ICAN)

Richard Konda, Executive Director, Asian Law Alliance

Ruth Silver Taube, Coordinator, Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition

Susan Hayase, San Jose Nikkei Resisters

Saul Ramos, Co-Executive Director, SOMOS Mayfair

Victor Vasquez, Co-Executive Director, SOMOS Mayfair

Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club



Individual Signatories (to sign on your individual behalf, type in your name and title, which is used for identification purposes only)


Carmen Brammer, Political Strategist & Community Advocate

Daniel Cao

Dieu Huynh, VietUnity - Southbay

Elizabeth Barcelos, South Bay Progressive Alliance

Elly Matsumura, Powerswitch Action

Emily Ann Ramos, Northern Vice-Chair, California Democratic Party API Caucus

Felwina Opiso-Mondina, PAWIS

Hong Cao, Board Member, Viet Museum

Huy Tran, Justice at Work Law Group, LLP

Jane Do Bui

Linda D. Nguyen

Lucy Tran

Mary Cheryl B. Gloner

Matt King, policy director, Sacred Heart Community Service

Michele Lew

Milan Balinton

Nadia Nouri, Iranian American SCC Green Party

Nick Cortez, South Bay Progressive Alliance

Patricia Gardner

Peggy Elwell, South Bay Progressive Alliance

Peter Allen, Political Strategist

Regina Celestin Williams

Richard Hobbs, Executive Director, Human Agenda

Robin Goka Huynh, San Jose Nikkei Resisters

Sarita Kohli, Executive Director, Asian Americans for Community Involvement

Vanessa Shieh



Elected Officials (to sign on your individual behalf, type in your name and title, which is used for identification purposes only)


Ash Kalra, Assemblymember, 27th Assembly District

Derek Grasty, Mt. Pleasant Elementary School District Trustee

Naomi Nakano-Matsumoto, Member of Fremont Union High School District Board

James Chang, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner

Javed Ellahie, Mayor, Monte Sereno

Jorge Pacheco Jr, Oak Grove School District Trustee

Ruben Abrica, Mayor, City of East Palo Alto

Sergio Jimenez, Councilmember, City of San Jose

Tara Sreekrishnan, Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee

Tony Alexander, San Jose Evergreen Community College District Trustee

Tony Estremera, Director, Santa Clara Valley Water District

Van Le, East Side Union High School Trustee

Wendy Ho, San Jose-Evergreen Community College District Trustee

Monday, October 31, 2022

Johnny Khamis and Santa Clara County Supervisor D1 Race


While most voters in San Jose are focusing on the contested San Jose mayoral seat, another significant race is shaping up to be very important for the balance of power in Santa Clara County as well as the representation of the Vietnamese - American community.  Currently, Santa Clara County D1 covers most of South San Jose neighborhoods including Blossom Hills and Almaden (SJ D10 and SJ D2), and Evergreen (SJ D8).  With about 10% of the registered are Vietnamese - American, the community cannot afford to ignore the race between former City Councilmember Johnny Khamis and D8 City Councilmember Sylvia Arenas.

After the redistricting in 2021, both Santa Clara County D3 and D1 are two districts that have the most Vietnamese-American voters, 12% and 10% respectively.   Supervisor Otto Lee won the D3 seat in 2020 when it made up of  16% Vietnamese-American voters. 

Johnny Khamis is a close ally of former City Councilmember Tam Nguyen.  Arriving in San Jose in 1976 from Beirut to escape the civil war, he grew up in a struggling immigrant family who rebuilt their life from scratch.  He graduated from San Jose State University and the CEO of a successfuly financial consulting firm.  His politics are aligned with most Vietnamese-Americans who came here as refugees to rebuild their lives  -  strong family values, personal accountability, fiscal responsibility, and more importantly, a government that works for the people without waste and mire in bureaucracy.

So far in this race,  Khamis  has shown to be a tiredless campaigner.  He raised over $550,000, twice his opponent, and received endorsements of key bipartisan political leaders in Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Jose.

His opponent has been on cruise control and relies heavily on South Bay Labor Council for her campaign.  The battle ground right now is San Jose City District 8 where over 25% of registered voters are Vietnamese-Americans.  

Syliva Arenas is a controversial candidate when earlier this year, she decided to introduce a measure  to allow noncitizen residents in San Jose a right to votes in all local elections.  This would allow about 120,000 noncitizen residents in San Jose to vote.  To Vietnamese-Americans, extending the right could lead lead to corruption and unaccountability of the voting system.   Moreover, with no representation in city council despite representing 13% of the registered voters, many Vietnamese-Americans feel threaten that their votes will be more diluted by the noncitizens, especially when a high percentage is Latina. 

In the primary, the Evergreen neighborhood where Vietnamese-Americans are dominant, Arenas won all of the precincts in the area,  mostly because of name recognition as their councilmember.  However,  Khamis has been actively campaign in community trying to change that.  

The race will come down to the wire.  Right now, the conventional wisdom is that Khamis has an edge  if the hispanic turnout is low as expected.   But he still needs to convert the Vietnamese-American voters who mostly  aligned with his pragmatic politics. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Cindy Chavez vs. Matt Mahan, An Unprecedented Campaign for Vietnamese Votes


Prologue:  A translated rambling commentary from Brian Do in his biweekly attack against Cindy Chavez on a Youtube show: “I don't know where they stand, Cindy Chavez and her groups are left wing with special privileges.   We left Vietnam, immigrated here to fight the communists, partly because we don't want the government to decide for us, we want a free voice.  We left Vietnam because we don't want any the government officials to decide for whom they can give or for whom they can help, they hold power here. Cindy Chavez and her privileged faction are truly a left-wing group. Their political positions are completely contrary to the basic interests that our Vietnamese community aspires to”

In the San Jose mayoral race replacing term limit Mayor Sam Liccardo, the fight for the Vietnamese votes has been quite heated so far with both SCC Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Councilmember Matt Mahan working hard to persuade the voters.   Currently, the conventional wisdom is Mahan has done a good job creating winds behind his back trying to close the gap in the Vietnamese community.  He is benefiting from aggressive tactics executed by his ardent supporters and Vietnamese campaigners.  It is impressive considering that he is an unknown in the community and has not shown his supports or efforts that would in any ways benefit the community during his time in office. Meanwhile Chavez is a familiar face with strong ties and long records of supporting the community for years. 

Throughout the campaign, Brian Do, a school board member of Eastside Union School District and a campaigner for Mahan, has been consistenly online and radio shows  poking at Chavez on many issues whether real or imaginary.  Basically, a clever strategy of  throwing everything under the sink and hoping some will stick:  

1.     She is left wing and that would make her against the “Vietnamese people’s interests”, and she only cares about "her people and her community".

2.     Chavez is causing crime increase.  By following the state policy enacted during the pandemic to  ease crowding in county jail, she has encouraged more crimes to be committed.   The policy allowed low level offenders of nonviolent crimes to be released while waiting for court order dates.   Do claimed   that with this policy “she allowed criminals to be released” and “the people of her community” after being released would  commit more crimes in the Vietnamese community, specifically in Little Saigon, as well as in other communities.  

3.    Chavez has distributed funding disproportionately to “her people” than to the  Vietnamese community.  If you vote for her, the Vietnamese will get minimal to nothing for our rightful "piece of the pie”.  Do would provide examples of how the county is not providing the “fair share” of social services to the Vietnamese people while “her community” would have all the privileges or more.  June Tran, a Mahan’s fervent supporter, recently went on a Youtube interview to level charges that Chavez is spending wastefully and yet not for the benefits of the Vietnamese community.   The attacks are viewed by some as race baiting with the idea somehow Matt Mahan will take care of the  Vietnamese community better than Chavez for she is favored other ethnic groups, mostly implying Hispanic.

4.     For two straight weeks, the local newspaper Calitoday ran paid articles denouncing Chavez for her support of abortion and Proposition 1 which would support the constitution amendment for the women’s right to choose.    

Supporters of Chavez who are often less vocal and have been slow to respond finally had enough of the twisted misinformation and baseless claims.  They pointed out:

 A.  Mahan is a Democratic liberal candidate with a liberal social agenda including supporting and funding abortion as he signed an open letter along with 77 other elected officials in the Bay Area urging Governor Newsom to support and funding abortion in California.  

 B. Chavez is giving more funding to “her community or to her people” than the Vietnamese community.  There is no such proof.   The county government budgeted funding to serve all people and the Vietnamese community is being equally served.  And to Chavez credit, her funding of the Vietnamese-American Service Center is a testament of her unwavering support of the community for the last 10 years.

      But being persistent, Mahan's supporters continue to claim that the Vietnamese community received below average healthcare supports during the COVID-19 pandemic while the other communities received better services. Both ICAN and VIVO, the two largest and oldest Vietnamese American nonprofit establishments serving the community on health care and social services in the last 40 years rebuked such outrageous fallacies:   

Quyen Vuong,  ICAN Executive Director said: “For many years, Supervisory Cindy Chavez has been a true friend, advocate and supporter of the Vietnamese community.  During the pandemic, she provided outreach and engagement funding to ICAN and many other organizations and media outlets to keep the Vietnamese community informed about covid vaccines to protect their health.  Sup. Chavez also supported the efforts to have the public health COVID website be done in Vietnamese, with weekly updates posted on Youtube from the County in Vietnamese about the covid situation, and county staff going on Vietnamese media outlets to stay connected with the community. Under her leadership and support, the construction and planning of the Vietnamese American Service Center continued to move forward in spite of the pandemic, so it could open its door as planned in early 2022.   We need a mayor who is truly committed to improving our lives and livelihood while understanding and respecting our culture and traditions.”


Bao Trieu, Chair and co-founder of VIVO stated:  “The Board of Supervisors along with the leadership of Supervisor Cindy Chavez has been very supportive of the Vietnamese community through many effective outreach and social programs for seniors, homeless and low-income families.  Her pro-active efforts helped save many lives in the county during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The  county provided resources adequately to all communities on prevention education, providing vaccines and priority treatment and testing were unprecedented in California. VIVO is proud to be part of the efforts as the oldest Vietnamese-American nonprofit organization that provide essential health and social supports to disadvantaged and hard to reach communities."


C.  The  crime issue is mostly a problem with Mayor Sam Liccardo and the City Council for a long time not willing to provide adequate budget to bolster the police force where there were over 200 police officers either left the force or retired without being filled.   Mayor Liccardo and the City Council including Mahan with their Black Lives Matter supports showed their unity and doing the right thing against institutionalized racism.  However, they compounded the problem that long has been ignored which is the inadequate funding of police and fire departments.  As San Jose residents can attest, if you call 911 for non-violent crimes, the police department would be reluctant to send officers to the scene due to manpower shortage.  Unfortunately, the county government has no jurisdiction on city’s law enforcement.

Some Vietnamese supporters of Mahan and their attacks using race baiting tactic playing Vietnamese voters that somehow as a Hispanic, Chavez will provide more funding and better social benefits to Hispanic and other ethnic groups than Vietnamese.  The message is by voting for Matt Mahan, the Vietnamese community will receive better favors.   Some people would call this is a racist message at its core.  While a few Vietnamese people are saying that Matt Mahan should denounce these intolerable baseless claims trying to create fears & hatred and speak up against such divisive politics using race.  

 By allowing these extreme supporters to continue using race baiting tactics,  their negative and destructive noises now overshadow Mahan's cultivated image of not politics as usual and thoughtful personality. 


An Unfortunate Incident

Last weekend, during the monthly flag raising ceremony at the Viet Heritage Garden,  Brian Do,  June Tran and other  Mahan’s supporters decided to stage a political stun to embarrassed Chavez and her staff.   For years, the ceremony is non-political and always an event reserved to honor and remember the plight of freedom and the fight against communism.  It is in public park where political rallies and campaigns are not allowed by city policy.   Both Chavez and Mahan stopped by to pay respect and join the ceremony. 

Mahan came together with Brian Do, June Tran, and 5 others.  His supporters had with them signs denouncing Chavez for sending a cease and desist letter to Brian Do for implying that she is a communist sympathizer.  To them,  this is a violation of his free speech.  They hid the signs so the organizers would not see and went inside the park.   Now whether Mahan knew about this protest stun is not known.  He was there for a short time and left quickly before his supporters carried out the plan. They were trying to unfurl their signs while Chavez was speaking but could not do it in time.   So as Chavez departed, they ran out to the gate and started chanting and denouncing her. 

 Brian Do then went back in the park and started attacking Chavez.  He accused her of being a bully and trying to silent the voices of the community.  He claimed that he is a "political victim".    He was quickly removed from the stage and  people were yelling at him to leave.    A lot of people were taken by surprise and offended since this is the day reserved for paying respect and in a public area not allowed by the city for political campaign and shenanigan.

Mr. Son Nguyen said: “ Brian Do is disrespectful and many people here are upset.  He, June Tran and supporters took advantage of the ceremonial event and turned it into a political circus for their own political gains.  Matt owes the community an apology”.  

Mrs. Loan commented: “We will file a complaint to the city and ask them to ban Matt and his supporters from the park.   Matt is violating his own city policy of using public places for political gain and creating chaos and division at a ceremonial event."

Other people at the event spoke up: “This reflects the campaign tactic of Matt, creating division, stirring hatred among ourselves.  With Brian Do and June Tran stirring things up to create chaos and discontent, it has turned a reverend event of the community for the last 10 years into a farce for their political agenda.   It is a very sad day for the community”

Conventional wisdom would indicate Chavez is the favorite in the Vietnamese community based on her track record.  But with  the strong supports of Mayor Liccardo, Madison Nguyen and her supporters, Mahan has made a  showing in the community by riding on a momentum of dividing the community using baseless claims to seed false fears and uncertainties in the community.  Some people in the community think this is a street fight politics and if history repeats itself, it will bring back memories to  those in the community old enough to live through the divisiveness era manufactured purposely for political gains by Madison Nguyen.

LSI predicts a very close race with a separation of less than 2,000 votes between winner and loser.   Let us put up a chair to watch an unprecedented campaign brawl in the history of San Jose mayoral race. 


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Councilmember Matt Mahan Supporting Women's Right to Choose or Not?

The battle for San Jose City mayoral seat is heating up now that the leaves are turning color for the final stretch.   Both remaining candidates are vying for the Vietnamese-American votes.  Afterall, it is 13% of the electorate. 

 Some Vietnamese-American supporters of Councilmember Matt Mahan are attacking Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez on her support of women's right to choose and Proposition 1 which amends the state constitution to include the right for reproductive freedom.   They are asking the Vietnamese community not to vote for her because she is supporting abortion right.

These are the remnants of  Madison Nguyen supporters (Yes, few are  still clinging on the idea that she is politically viable) who claim that Mahan is against abortion and Proposition 1.  A statement going viral on various email groups declares his whole family is all against abortion for it is sinful and that Matt is a good Catholic person who would follow his church teaching.     

The fact of the matter is Mahan is a supporter of abortion and reproductive rights as reported in the main stream media.  As a progressive candidate in a politically liberal city,  this is not a surprise.

On May 9, 2022,  he also co-signed along with 77 other elected officials in the Bay Area an open letter asking Governor Newsom to support and fund abortion in California.  

What Mahan said to his Vietnamese supporters about his abortion stand,  LSI cannot confirm.  

So the misleading propaganda by his supporters is either  a clever lie to create favorable impression of Mahan or Mahan himself playing both sides of the fence and telling his Vietnamese supporters whatever they want to hear and let them attack Chavez on false pretense.

In politics, slyness is the key and a narrative edge on your opponent is worthwhile to craft by any means given the opportunity. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

The San Jose Mayoral Race and Conventional Wisdom

Prologue:   Right after the primary,  with San Jose Councilmember Matt Mahan surprisingly strong but expected second place finish behind Supervisor Cindy Chavez, he had the momentum going to the run off this November.    For Chavez,  anything below a 40%  winning margin in the primary was considered a sign of rough water ahead for her campaign since she was running with big name recognition and against a freshman city councilmember and two other relative unknown councilmembers.   

Another 4 weeks  before absentee ballots will land in mailboxes, still some of the election drama can now be viewed through the lens of the Vietnamese-American community.  With over 70,560 registered voters or about 13% of the overall electorate,  Vietnamese-American voters once again will be crucial for both candidates.

 In the primary, Chavez  won the majority of the districts that are either Latino or Asian dominated.   Mahan,  on the other hand, won in districts that are dominated by established white voters.  It seems that he came in strong by winning the non-Asian, non-Latino demographics despite the fact that they are not the majority voting bloc.    Why, because they always have a higher turn-out rate.   For example in the primary,  Latino was about 26%,  Viet at  ~ 29%, and White at ~38%.   The overall turn out was 35.5%. 

Chavez won 55% of the votes in San Jose District 7.  This is a traditional Viet stronghold with about 34% registered voters are Vietnamese.   Chavez also won in D4 and D8,  44% and 43% respectively.  D4 has about 22% Viet registered voters while D8 has about 24%. 

But analyzing the results further, it reveals that her strength of working closely with the community for the last 10 years was not fully exploited.  A weak and inexperience campaign team could not send out the necessary messages needed to rally the community and capture the large Viet vote that is her to lose.  

Mahan has very minimal exposure to the community since he is new and has not done anything to deserve the Viet vote.   He does not have any significant contributions or relationships with the community as Hiep Nguyen, a long time D4 resident noted. 

However, he cleverly masks his lack of records with the connection to the old Madison Nguyen's supporters and hires some of them to work for him. 

He will likely concede the Asian and Latino votes but only to a small margin.    Case in point,  he is working hard to keep Chavez from winning a 20 percentage point margin in the Viet community (which Chavez should,  considering all the relationships and work that she has with the Viet community)  by going all out  on her with political attacks.   He is also going after the younger Vietnamese voters for they might see him as a fresh face as agent of change, the  shiny penny syndrome.   By keeping his loss within 5-10 percentage points, he is hoping that the advantage with the White voters and their high turn out will give him enough to win.

His main patron is Mayor Sam Liccardo,  and he is using the same playbook that Liccardo carried out in the 2014 mayoral race to defeat a more seasoned and well known then Superivsor Dave Cortese.

After the primary, Chavez realized with Matt only 7 percentage points behind, he would give her the fight of her political career.  She astutely moved her campaign headquarters to Councilmember Davis' district and received the endorsement of Davis who won almost 11% of the votes in the mayoral primary.   Mahan admitted that was a stinger.  But the consolation price is that Davis did not win her own district in the primary,  Matt did.   

Now with 9 out of 10 city councilmembers endorsing her,  Chavez has the momentum going to the general election.  She is forcing Matt to play defensive in his own backyard for  the white vote.

She also received enforcement in the Viet community with Hai Huynh throwing his support behind her campaign.  Hai Huynh was both courted by Mahan and Chavez for they knew he can bring fund raising and people to shore up either campaign.  Since joining, he brings his throngs of supporters along and helps focus her message in the Viet community.    Her main supporters are still the  traditional older, elderly Vietnamese voters.  They are reliable voters but the community is changing and the middle-aged, well educated  Viet voters who have spent most of their lives here in the US are where Chavez has limited outreach so far. 


A tracking poll is currently conducted by Scotch Pine Polling & Research, a Northwest based consulting firm, should provide a better glimpse into the race when the resutls are available.   In the meantime, the conventional wisdom is that it will be a tight race and at least in the Vietnamese-American community, the negative attacks are already flying.  

Sunday, January 16, 2022

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"Are You Feeling Blue?" Art Exhibtion