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FULLERTON : New Mayor Says Her Goal Is to Bring Residents Together

October 28, 1994|MIMI KO

Mayor Julie Sa is challenging all residents to unite.

She stresses her message every time she votes on a controversial issue that pits neighbor against neighbor and tears the city apart.

Since she was elected to the City Council in 1992, Sa has routinely given brief speeches either before or after voting, urging the people who fight over projects or ordinances to "help each other and work for compromise."

Sa, 43, said her style is the reason she was chosen this week to serve as the city's new mayor in the midst of heated dispute over whether the council should repeal a 2% utility tax.

"I'm the mediator," she said. "I think I can bring all the people back together to build a community that works together and cares about everyone."

Sa's new position makes her the first Asian American mayor in Orange County. Sa, of Chinese ancestry, was born and raised in Korea. She immigrated to the United States in 1973.

"The Korean community is proud of Julie Sa," said Koo Oh, a long-time Fullerton business owner and resident who is president of the Korean-American Assn. of Orange County. "Some people may reject her kind of leadership but our city is (split) on many issues right now and we need somebody to act as the referee. That's what she's trying to do."

Other residents agreed but believe Sa needs to take charge and establish her philosophy.

"Julie's going to need a lot of support," former Mayor A.B. (Buck) Catlin said. "You can urge people to get along and love each other but love is not going to do it. She must show people how they can come together."

That is exactly what Sa said she intends to do.

"I'm going to tell everybody to (mend) ties with neighbors and friends who haven't spoken in a long time," said Sa, who calls her parents daily and visits them in their Santa Ana home every Saturday. "Let's start right now, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor. It's very important to get along with each other so we can help the city rebuild . . . eventually, I think we will all be one big happy family."

As mayor of a city of 130,000 residents, Sa, who became a U.S. citizen in 1984, said she plans to push for a senior citizens' housing project to be developed at the Hughes Aircraft Co. facility once it shuts down.

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