Nguyen's anti-recall campaign is aimed at shoring up her ties to the Vietnamese community. A glossy mailer in Vietnamese reminds constituents that she too was a refugee who fled Vietnam by boat after the war. In a DVD she gave to constituents, Nguyen is shown wearing traditional ao dai tunics and lobbying for the state to officially adopt the yellow-and-red striped flag of South Vietnam, which remains a powerful symbol to Vietnamese Americans.
"At times, it can be heart-wrenching because the same people that I wholeheartedly want to represent in office, and still do, are the same people who oppose everything I am doing," she said.
Recall backers say Nguyen's outreach comes too late and that her mistakes go far beyond the naming issue. Crime in the district has risen, they say, tax money has been squandered and backroom deals with developers have been made. "The Little Saigon name was only the straw that broke the camel's back," Le said.
Nguyen says the accusations are false and politically inspired.
Both sides are expecting a high turnout from Vietnamese voters. Still, the ethnic group makes up less than 30% of the council district, so both sides are lobbying Latino and white voters as well. If Nguyen is recalled, there will be a special election to fill her seat. And, Nguyen said, she might regroup and run again.