Vietnamese Americans join panels in final tally

Truong Diep and Andrew Do win Westminster and Garden Grove city council seats.

December 02, 2008|My-Thuan Tran

Westminster became the first city in America with a Vietnamese-majority city council after a final tabulation of votes Monday shifted the winners in two Orange County cities.

Two Vietnamese American candidates who had been trailing after initial vote counts on election day emerged as winners when the Orange County registrar certified the final results of the Nov. 4 election.

In Westminster, Truong Diep initially trailed Penny Loomer by 1,500 votes. But the final vote count put Diep, 25, a member of the Midway City Sanitary District board, ahead by a few dozen votes, giving him the second-place win.

Loomer said Monday that she may seek a recount.

Diep's election stands as a milestone for the small, conservative city that has been transformed by Vietnamese refugees into the thriving enclave of Little Saigon.

The election once again shows the Vietnamese community's propensity for voting absentee. Diep said his win was a surprise, that he had not known if the absentee ballots sent in by Vietnamese voters could overcome the 1,500-vote margin he was behind by.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to make it into the winning column," Diep said. "My gut feeling was that the gap could not be as wide as it was."

In neighboring Garden Grove, after thousands of absentee and provisional ballots were counted, Andrew Do secured a second-place finish for a seat on the City Council, edging out Robin Peace Marcario.

Do, chief of staff of Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, became the second Vietnamese American City Council member in Garden Grove. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

Tran is a Times staff writer.

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