The last time Dr. Patrick Phu Le showed up in the news, it was for being arrested after attacking a press photographer he accused of being a communist spy. Now, the longtime Vietnamese community activist and current candidate for the District 7 seat on the San Jose City Council has exactly one week to move to San Jose if he still wants to run.
Le, a county health commissioner and close friend and adviser to Councilman Kansen Chu, recently threw his hat into the Council race against incumbent Madison Nguyen. However, the ardent Little Saigon supporter still lives in Milpitas, according to the 501 Candidate Statement of Intention form Le filed with San Jose City Clerk Lee Price. In order to still be eligible to run, Le has until Feb. 10 to move to San Jose and register with her office, Price says.
Dr. Le, a former research biochemist, has been holding up the local anti-communist torch for decades. In a May 2007 incident at San Jose Mineta Airport, during an event welcoming famous Vietnamese anti–communist activist Ly Tong, Le reportedly assaulted photographer Tan Nguyen, who later insisted that he was not a communist, but in fact a member of the local Vietnamese press corps. Tan Nguyen said he was punched and kicked to the ground by Le, ultimately resulting in a bruise to his face and a cut hand. Le was unapologetic: In a Metro article following the event, he was quoted as saying: “We will do whatever we need to do to stop them.”
More recently, during the Little Saigon uproar, City Planning Director Joseph Horwedel briefly allowed Le to translate at a raucous July 23, 2008 city hall meeting after the city-appointed translator was booed off the stage by protesters. It soon became clear, however, that Le was instead using the dais to stir up the crowd and Horwedel ended the meeting soon after.
Other rumored candidates for the District 7 seat are real estate investor Michael Tran, business development commissioner and former District 8 candidate Minh Duong. Bryan Do, a community activist who lost in the 2007 Council election against Kansen Chu, is also running. During Do’s campaign in 2007, there was a bit of an uproar when an advertisement in a local Vietnamese newspaper compared him to a communist prison guard. Fly’s campaign-attire suggestion to Do: boxer’s headgear.