San Jose Democrats denounce mayoral candidate and supporter
October 8, 2022
Elections can get nasty, but Santa Clara County officials are towing the line when it comes to stoking racial tensions in political discussions.
The Santa Clara County Democratic Party voted unanimously on Thursday to ‘condemn’ the mayoral campaign of San Jose councilman Matt Mahan, urging the candidate to address allegations of racist comments made by a partisan.
The resolution calls out Bryan Do, district administrator of East Side Union High School, for making “racial” comments against mayoral candidate, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, during appearances at Vietnamese media last month. The resolution alleges Do made the comments while expressing support for Mahan’s campaign.
As San José Spotlight reported this week, Do is accused of calling Chavez a communist during an interview with Vietnamese-language media. He denied having done so. A direct translation of the word Do used is leftist, but it can be seen as old slang for “communist”.
The Chavez campaign slapped Do with a cease and desist letter last month and ordered him to stop using the word. The dispute came to a breaking point when Do showed up last weekend during a Vietnamese flag raising at the Viet Heritage Garden – where Chavez and Mahan were present – to hold up signs protesting Chavez and took the microphone before being rushed by the organizers.
In a Sept. 8 interview for a YouTube talk show sponsored by CaliToday, a Vietnamese-language outlet, Do accused Chavez of using her position as county supervisor to help the Latino community, nonprofits, and organizations. instead of the Vietnamese community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Do claimed that there was no Vietnamese representation in San Jose and that a Chavez administration would eliminate the Vietnamese voice. Vietnam’s younger generation is at a disadvantage, he added, compared to other communities of color. San José Spotlight independently verified Do’s comments, which were in Vietnamese.
“Right now the city council is where Cindy Chavez and her political faction want to take power in the city of San Jose,” Do said during the interview. “We want a future where one day our children and grandchildren will stand up and have a say with other ethnic groups, rather than working for them.”
Santa Clara County Democratic Party Chairman Bill James said Do and Mahan should be held accountable and stop using divisive tactics.
“The Vietnamese American community is an important part of the San Jose community…There should be a strong voice for the community,” James told San Jose Spotlight. “What’s wrong is saying through a surrogate or directly that members of one ethnic or racial community in the city shouldn’t vote for one candidate because they’re going to favor another racial or ethnic community.”
James added that no campaign should win votes using questionable strategies.
“It’s a question of whether you really allow Council member Mahan to benefit from this racially divisive campaign on his behalf?” James told San Jose Spotlight.
Do told San José Spotlight that her statements were not racially motivated.
“I’m an elected official and I speak for myself, not for Matt Mahan,” Do told San Jose Spotlight. “I never said anything racist – and the only racist thing about this story is that the Chavez political machine is now trying to create racial divisions based on outright lies.”
Chavez expressed support for the Democratic Party’s resolution to expose Do and Mahan.
“I applaud the Democratic Party and our community for taking a strong stand against the racist attacks that have been authorized by Matt Mahan’s campaign for mayor,” Chavez told San Jose Spotlight. “Racism has no place in our communities.”
Matthew Quevedo, Mahan’s campaign manager, pointed out that Do is not affiliated with the campaign.
“Our response is sadness that this small group of political operatives and Chavez supporters seem willing to create racial divisions based on a contested translation without solid evidence or serious findings,” Quevedo told San Jose Spotlight. “There should be no place for racial divisions in our politics and no place for politicians or political operatives to fan the flames of racial division for their own interests.”
San Jose Councilman David Cohen, who championed the resolution, said racial tensions could impact the city’s diverse communities.
“People can decide how they want to behave in their campaigns,” Cohen told San José Spotlight. “I just fear that using divisive language will lead to long-term conflict or disagreement that will be damaging.”
Contact Loan-Anh Pham at [email protected] or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.
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