California Gains the First Vietnamese American State Senator: Janet Nguyen

California Gains the First Vietnamese American State Senator: Janet Nguyen

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"Finally, after 40 years, our community made history today," Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen said on Tuesday night at Azteca Mexican Restaurant in Garden Grove. Nguyen's touching statement came as the Orange County Election Authority showed her leading in the Senate District 34 race at 62 percent of the vote by 10pm, with her Democratic rival Jose Solorio trailing behind at 38 percent.

This is the first time the United States has had a state senator of Vietnamese descent. The state's 34th District includes parts of Long Beach and Orange County.

Nguyen continued: "This is the toughest election in my life. This is David versus Goliath, and David won. This is the victory of Vietnam, our community, not my own. The results of this election show that voters want change in the 34th District of California. "

"We are the largest US state, with the highest income, but the heaviest taxed. This is not acceptable. As Senator of the 34th District, I will continue to defend Prop. 13, protect the safety of citizens, and work to ensure our children’s access to college, regardless of their race, " Nguyen said to the resounding applause of a restaurant filled with supporters.

However, Janet Nguyen’s rival, Jose Solorio, has not accepted defeat. At Original Mike's Restaurant in Santa Ana, he told the Nguoi Viet newspaper that "It is too early to say who won." "This has been a great race and showdown," Solorio told Nguoi Viet. "Soon we will know the final result."

Solorio thanked his Vietnamese American supporters. "I want to thank the Vietnamese Americans who supported my Senate candidacy. I was the leader of the local community and will continue this role in the long-term future. I will continue to serve Orange County residents long into the future," he said.

Solorio has served as state representative of Santa Ana, and is currently president of the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board.

Nguyen also thanked all her supporters, including family, friends, volunteers, staff, and especially fellow Vietnamese Americans who helped her win the election. She additionally thanked the Vietnamese language media for enabling Vietnamese speaking voters to learn more about elections and voting. "Without the Vietnamese voters, we would not win today," she said.

She also acknowledged Tony Lam, the first Vietnamese American city councilman elected in the United States. "Thank you Tony Lam," Nguyen said. “You paved the way for all Vietnamese Americans to run for office.”

Present at the restaurant was Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County District Attorney. “I think Janet Nguyen is a very worthy winner today," said Rackauckas, who officially supported Nguyen.

“As an immigrant who came to this country with nothing, this victory shows that the American Dream is alive,” Nguyen added.

Nguyen was the first Asian elected to the Board of Supervisors of Orange County, in a special election in 2007, and was then the youngest supervisor in the history of the county. She was re-elected in 2008. She represents more than 600,000 residents in Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Westminster, and the Midway City area. Orange County is ranked as the 6th most populous county in the United States and has the 7th-largest annual budget in the country.

The above article, excerpted from Nguoi Viet Newspaper, was translated by NAM editor, Andrew Lam. Photo Credi: Dan Huynh/Nguoi Viet.