When I trekked out to Santa Ana on Saturday morning I planned on covering what had been billed as a recognition by the City of Santa Ana of the “Birthplace of the Vietnamese Community in Orange County” I didn’t expect to be attending a campaign rally. As I wrote on Friday, I was skeptical of the reasons for the recognition. But I was thinking that the elected officials of the city were the ones playing politics.
Turns out the official city press release failed to mention one very critical point, the event was organized by Orange County Board of Education, Area 1, candidate Ken Nguyen. Upon arriving at the location of the Truc Lam Yen Temple, I was greeted by balloons and campaign signs for Ken Nguyen.
Nguyen was the master of ceremonies for the event and was praised by Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido for his great work and service to the community for organizing the recognition. Pulido even had a chance to speak in French to the several hundred attendees. Pulido did take a moment to remember the significance of the timing of the event in relation to Black April, commemorating the fall of Saigon.
Mayor Pro Tem Claudia positively gushed thanking the Vietnamese community for their support, claiming they have always supported her and have made the difference in her elections. Interesting, her campaign signs for her 69th Assembly campaign in 2004 focused less on diversity with the slogan “She’s One of Us!” in both English and Spanish. Alvarez was beside herself with pride talking about the pride and surprise she felt upon learning of the Temple’s designation and location being in her district. She has represented Ward 5 in Santa Ana for just under 12 years, and apparently just learned of the significance and location of the temple.
There is no doubt that Truc Lam Yen Temple has been an important part of the history of the Vietnamese community of Orange County. As I wrote last week, the claim of birthplace is a bit of a stretch.
What is sad is that the Santa Ana City chose to politicize the important contribution of Truc Lam Yen Temple at a campaign event in support of a city commissioner, Ken Nguyen, who they have all endorsed for Board of Education.
Election season does indeed inspire interesting efforts by elected officials.