This election season, we’ve heard endless speeches about representing minorities and fighting for the underdogs. However, few are as well-equipped to turn rhetoric into reality as Bao Nguyen, an Orange County mayor running for Congress.
At only 36, Nguyen has already broken boundaries and stereotypes in his political career. When he was elected in 2014, he became the first Vietnamese-American mayor in the U.S., and the first openly gay mayor in Orange County. On top of that, he hopes to be the first member of Congress born in a refugee camp.
After the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese government interrogated Nguyen’s father, and the family decided to flee for America. After a harrowing journey across the sea, Nguyen was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, and they finally arrived months later in Nashville. Although adjusting and growing up in America wasn’t easy, Nguyen believes the challenges became advantages: “I may not be able to fit in anywhere, but I’m able to see how we relate to one another and I’m able to draw the connections.”
Now, as anti-immigrant sentiment and fear seem to be spreading, and as the Syrian refugee crisis worsens, Nguyen hopes to step up to the plate and win a Southern California Congressional seat. He’s currently falling behind former state senator Lou Correa, but Nguyen hopes that by appealing to young liberals, his campaign can stage a comeback.