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Orange County

Nguyen Is a Winner in Final Count

Garden Grove makes him the nation's first Vietnamese American to sit on a school board.

November 26, 2002|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

Lan Nguyen, an attorney who for weeks was trailing in his bid for one of two open seats on the Garden Grove Unified School District board, was declared a winner after all Monday when a final tally gave him a second-place finish.

The victory makes Nguyen the first Vietnamese American in the country to be elected to a school board, according to the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials, a division of the National League of Cities.

Nguyen received 18,777 votes to Terry Cantrell's 18,718, according to final figures from the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Before the provisional votes had been counted, Cantrell had 18,417 and Nguyen had 18,341. The top vote-getter was Bob Harden with 20,745.

Nguyen credited his victory to a strong get-out-the-vote effort in the Vietnamese community. The Garden Grove district has the largest Vietnamese American student population in the nation -- 28%, or about 11,000 students.

"Now I have a chance to hopefully make a difference," said Nguyen, who said he wants to improve communication between the large immigrant community and school officials.

The results shifted after tallying provisional votes -- ballots cast at polling places by absentee voters who did not receive ballots and those cast by voters who moved and voted where they were not registered.

Nguyen will go to San Francisco next week for a training session conducted by the state's School Board Training Assn. His term officially begins Dec. 6.

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