Former San Jose vice mayor enters crowded supervisor race
Former San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen filing her papers to run in the District 2 Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors race on May 1, 2023. Photo courtesy of Madison Nguyen.

    Madison Nguyen said she can’t stay away from politics any longer and plans to run for a county seat.

    The former San Jose vice mayor announced her bid for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 2 seat Monday, showing up with supporters to file her candidacy papers in-person at the county Registrar of Voters. The well-known politico is looking to make a comeback, with Supervisor Cindy Chavez terming out in December.

    “Our residents deserve an effective public servant whose focus is getting things done,” Nguyen told San José Spotlight. “I’m running for supervisor because when I see a problem, I want to fix it and I’m focused on fixing it.”

    Nguyen joins an already crowded race for the District 2 seat. Santa Clara County politico Betty Duong announced her candidacy in March, with former San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco and Alum Rock Union School District Trustee Corina Herrera-Loera following weeks later. Santa Clara County could have its first-ever Vietnamese supervisor if Nguyen or Duong claim victory. District 2 is centered in San Jose.

    Nguyen, 48, grew up in the Central Valley as the daughter of farmworkers and Vietnamese immigrants. She began her career in public service as a Franklin-McKinley School District board member in 2002. She became the first Vietnamese American San Jose councilmember in 2005 and vice mayor in 2011, serving on the council until 2014. She made unsuccessful runs for San Jose mayor in 2014 and State Assembly in 2016.

    Since then, Nguyen has held executive positions at the nonprofit Hunger at Home and San Jose Chamber of Commerce, and currently works as the executive vice president of marketing company AsianNet Media. She holds a history degree from UC Santa Cruz and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

    Nguyen said she was content to remain a concerned citizen, but conversations with residents in the past few months spurred her to run. She said her priorities are public safety, homelessness and affordable housing. Her goal is to increase affordable housing projects on county-owned land and tackle homelessness with more mental health, substance use and workforce development programs.

    “I’ve been out of office for almost 10 years, and I didn’t think that I would get back into politics,” Nguyen said. “However, in the past few years, things have gotten out of control.”

    Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said Nguyen was a crucial player as his vice mayor and successfully navigated different perspectives to implement affordable housing projects. He said they’ve known each other for more than 20 years, and he wholeheartedly supports her campaign.

    “(She) is the kind of person that the board of supervisors really needs to help implement some of their lofty goals,” Reed told San José Spotlight. “It’s not easy to get people to sign on to affordable housing projects anywhere in the county… That’s a rare talent that she has.”

    Muoi Landivar, a San Jose resident and director of IT and information security at, said she first met Nguyen when the latter was giving a speech at a local event a few years ago. Landivar said as a fellow Vietnamese American woman, Nguyen’s dedication for creating community change is inspiring.

    “She has the courage to go out there and do what she’s passionate about and talk about it,” Landivar told San José Spotlight.

    Nguyen said she’s spent nearly two decades working in San Jose and wants to continue making her home a better place to live for families and future generations.

    “I have walked nearly every street, alley, corridor of this district and I have knocked on more doors,” Nguyen told San José Spotlight. “I know firsthand what I need to do to help bring forth solutions.”

    Contact Loan-Anh Pham at [email protected] or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.

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