By Jim Tortolano
The Westminster recall election campaign is heading into the final lap as voters in the All American City go – not to the polls, but to the mailboxes – to decide whether to remove three members of the city council from office.
From now through April 7 citizens will weigh the fate of Mayor Tri Ta and council members Kimberly Ho and Chi Charlie Nguyen. They will decide not only whether to oust them but also who would replace them if any were recalled.
Eleven candidates will vie to replace the incumbents. They are:
- Phat Vu, Christopher Ochoa and councilman Tai Do.
For the council seat now held by Ho.
- Samantha Bao Anh Nguyen, Carlos Manzo, Khai Dao, Tam Do, Frank Tran and Mark Lawrence.
For the council seat now held by Nguyen.
- Jamison Power and Cu Tran.
Not only does April’s election include the prospect of potentially removing and replacing three members of the council, but there’s another council election in November.
The electoral battle shapes up as a struggle between the council majority – Ta, Ho and Nguyen — and the minority, Councilmembers Tai Do and Sergio Contreras. Do, who is running in this recall campaign for the mayor’s seat, was elected to the council in 2018 and has steadily questioned the actions of the majority, whose critics have dubbed “The Gang of Three.”
Council meetings went from quiet affairs to raucous events with supporters and critics of the council majority exchanging insults and accusations. The majority was hit with charges of nepotism and trying to muzzle the minority; the minority was accused of “divisiveness” that could serve the interests and efforts of the communist government of Vietnam to infiltrate and influence the Little Saigon community in Westminster.
The struggle spilled outside the city limits. Garden Grove Councilmember Phat Bui – who supported the minority – was the target of a short-lived recall effort. Additionally, sponsorship of the annual Tet Parade on Bolsa Avenue was awarded to a different group; in previous years it was run by an organization led by Bui. In response, a rival Tet parade was organized and held in Garden Grove.
Because of the coronavirus crisis, there will be no in-person voting. Instead, ballots will be marked at home and mailed. Voters can:
- mail their ballot (postage is pre-paid) so that it is postmarked by Election Day, April 7.
- drop off their ballot at the Registrar’s ballot drop box – open 24 hours a day – no later than 8 p.m. on April 7 at 1300 South Grand Ave., Santa Ana.
- Drop off the ballot at a ballot drop box in Westminster – open 24 hours a day – at the following locations no later than 8 p.m. on April 7. Those locations are the Korean Martyrs Catholic Center (7655 Trask Ave.), Park West Park (8301 West McFadden Ave.) and West County Professional and Medical Center (14120 Beach Blvd.)
If you didn’t receive a ballot in the mail or have other questions, call (714) 567-7600.