Tri Ta is not only the first Vietnamese American elected mayor in Westminster, home to the largest Little Saigon in the nation, but the first one in the country, Vietnamese leaders say.
His election signals another political milestone for one of the youngest immigrant communities in the United States, said Van Tran, a former state assemblyman who became the first Vietnamese American to serve in a state legislature.
“The message in his election is that it speaks very positively for the American system and what the American dream is all about,” Tran said.
“No other country on this Earth would have the level of opportunities to provide someone like myself or Tri Ta that opportunity but the United States,” he said.
For Ta, it’s a long way from 1992, when he arrived from Saigon at the age of 19 with his parents and sisters.
A self-described “fast learner,” he picked up English quickly and was set to study computer science at Cal State Los Angeles. But then he took his first political science class, and his professor called him in.
His first stint in politics was in 1998, as field representative for Assemblyman Jim Morrissey. Ta joined numerous community organizations and worked on two city committees before winning his first council seat in 2006. He was re-elected in 2010.
Ta, 39, works as a managing editor for Viet Salon magazine, a trade journal for salon professionals.
He and his wife, Anh Doan, have two young daughters. She’s a pharmacist, but the two have co-written three books, two of poetry and one of short stories.