District 7 Council Candidate: Carpetbagger?

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.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. San Jose has a long history of admitted or well known “want to be” and elected Council and Mayor candidates moving here to run for San Jose office from other cities or moving to open Council or Assembly districts

    Many times the 2nd and 3rd vote getting in other Council district would have been a better representative for some Council districts that some who were elected

    Carpetbagging or “having wheels on your furniture” has been a long political tradition in San Jose – so what – if – the person is qualified and can best represent the district if not – don’t vote for them

  2. This is not unusual.  Brian Darby who operates the Libertarian front group known as Santa Clara Plays Fair lives in San Jose.  Darby has attempted to list himself on membership lists as a Santa Clara resident.  Byron Fleck who moved to San Jose was caught attempting to masquerade himself as a Santa Clara community leader.  Apparently, no one by these phonies wants to oppose the stadium.  Darby even writes the statements made by Treasurer Bailey, who gets too angry to think.

  3. SJI,
    I don’t think this article is very fair and balanced. I wish the media would give we voters a break here. I’m tired of trying to figure out who to vote for with this type of reporting on candidates. More facts please and less drama! Thanks!

    • Thanks Kathleen for your comments.

      The Metro has a newspaper to spread whatever news they want as long as they are in favor of the candidate they support. The fact that proved their one-sided and unfair accusation is they don’t offer me any chances to respond!

      The truth regarding the airport incident is I have been exonerated of any wrong doings by the DA office. My DOJ record is totally clean.

      The photographer involved was trying to exhort money from me. In a civil lawsuit, his attorney started by demanding millions dollars of compensation, down to a few hundred thousand dollars and finally settled with an amount much less from what I would have spent for my lawyer to defend me in Court. After a lengthy discussion with my attorney. We come to a conclusion of a settlement because it would be less costly for me than my attorney’s fees and would save my time in Court which would prevent me from working.

      The terms and reasons for settlement should not be
      disclosed but the photographer involved, Mr Tan Nguyen has been spreading news such as I was guilty in his civil lawsuit.

      Actually, my lawyer at my request, had counter sued his newspaper for malice and having disseminated untruthful facts. This played a big role in his decision to settle for mostly the costs he had to pay his attorney.

      I have been serving the Vietnamese American and the community at large for long enough for people to judge my character and my dedication to serve. I had been serving and are serving in many Boards of Directors, both public commissions and private companies from Banks to business corporations. My colleagues always appreciated my contributions and appraised my personal character.

      The reported incident involving City Planning Director Joseph Horwedel is even more insulting to me. The reality was the translator coming from the City staff, Anna Le—coincidence that she is my best friend’s sister—was not able to so her translating job properly because she had problem with Vietnamese language. Mr Horwedel asked the meeting participants for a capable person to volunteer so I accepted the demand.

      The issue of the meeting with the Planning Department was related to the number of banners and how they were to be displayed on a portion of Story Rd between McLaughlin and Senter. Vietnamese Americans who attended the meeting raised the concerns that the number banners should be spread out instead of concentrating on the intersections of Story Rd with Mc Laughlin and Senter as proposed by Planning Department.

      When I translated what the City was planning to do, there were lot of expressed dis satisfactions from the attendees. People were very noisy. I’d called upon the patience and calmness of participants and told them nothing we could solve with noisy objections but we must work diligently with the City to have things done.

      Nevertheless angry people decided to walk out and nothing I could do about it.

      I stayed over with Mr Horwedel for more than 20 minutes to discuss the issue and recommended him to satisfy the demand of the Vietnamese community since it was not much to ask. Mr Horwedel thanked me for my effort to call on people to stay calm. Later on I found out that when banners were displayed, they were spread evenly on Story Rd as Vietnamese Americans had asked for.

      Mr Howwedel and Ms Le are live witness of my sincere efforts and if necessary I can request their testimonies and rectifications for what really had happened on the afored mentioned meeting.

      I feel obliged to clarify this matter for my friends on Facebook who had contacted me and expressed their concerns.

      I really appreciate and are deeply grateful of all who had contacted me.


      Patrick Phu Le. Health Advisory Commissioner, Santa Clara County

      • I am a resident of District 7 and I have being keeping up with the local election.  I am not sure if I will vote for Madison, however I don’t know who you, Dr Patrick Phu Le.  Things I have read about you are interesting and like to find more information about you.  Do you have a website?

        – Randy

        • Dear Randy:

          Even though I’m recently relocating into District 7, I have been working in the District for more than 20 years. I am the founder and manager of Tully Clinic Pharmacy located within Tully Medical Clinic where my wife is practicing Pediatrics with other physicians.

          I had been serving in many Boards of Directors both private and public such as California Security Bank which name has been changed, or “Resources for Families” of Santa Clara County. I’m now its Health Advisory Commissioner.

          I don’t have a website for my campaign at this time but will have one soon.

          You will find all information about me on the website. Hopefully I’ll get your vote after you’ve found out more about my backgrounds.



        • Patrick,
          Please let us know when your website is up and running. We’d like to see your thoughts on how to improve our City. Thank you for your commitment to our community!

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