SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The mayor of Milpitas calls a campaign mailer sent to voters over the weekend “dirty politics.” The last-minute mailer was paid for by opponents of Mayor Rich Tran and it links him to communist rule in Vietnam.
“This is a disgrace to every Vietnamese American who calls America home,” said Tran.
Tran is running for his second term against five other candidates. The mailer shows a picture of Tran with the Vietnamese communist flag. Tran said the words under it translated in English is “Who is this yellow star going to serve?” The other side shows images of Ho Chi Minh and a priest being mishandled in Vietnamese court.
“These types of negative mailers, hate mail, they bring back traumatic experiences for my mother
that's why I can't have it and I won't tolerate it,” said Tran.
“It upset me because the Vietnamese community is very sensitive to accusations of communism,” said San Jose Councilman Lan Diep.
Diep is also Vietnamese American. He’s not endorsing any candidate in the Milpitas mayor's race. He’s upset tens of thousands of dollars was spent on a professional mailer that re-opens old wounds of losing their homeland to oppressive communism. Diep likens the tactic to what's happening with national politics.
“It certainly is a mirror to the vitriol happening at the national level as disheartening as that is I would like to think we in the South Bay can rise above that,” said Diep.
A disclaimer on the mailer said it's funded by the South Bay SV Community Coalition PAC. In a statement, the organization said in part, “We never called Tran a communist. However, his questionable actions as a Vietnamese-American mayor undoubtedly reflect values parallel to that of the authoritarian Vietnamese government. To that end, we believe the mailer is justified and stand by our decision.”
According to the Santa Clara County Registrar’s Office, there are nearly 30,000 registered voters in Milpitas. Thirteen percent of the voters noted their birth place is Vietnam. Tran said after the election, he plans to hold whoever sent the mailer accountable.