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Often mentioned is elevating San Francisco Supervisor Carmen Chu to Assessor-Recorder. But that leaves an open District 4 (Sunset) Supervisor seat where Mayor Ed Lee faces the risk of losing another appointee to election or key vote on his agenda (See “Potstickers” 12/6/12 at and 12/20/12 at Last year, he appointed College Board trustee Rodrigo Santos who lost a November election to set policy at SF City College where two of five students are APA…Another pick, Japantown / Haight Ashbury District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague, opposed the mayor’s suspension of Sheriff Ross MirkarimiLESS RISKY PICK: A safer appointment bet – retain Chu as Supervisor and elevate seven-year Deputy Assessor Zoon Nguyen, already running the joint sincePhil Ting left for the State Assembly. She once worked for State Senator John Burton, now California Democratic Party chair. Nguyen also toiled for former Supervisor and President Bill Clinton’sHUD Assistant Secretary Roberta Achtenberg, now Pres. Barack Obama’s US Civil Rights Commissioner. Also on Civil Rights, former Rep. Nancy Pelosi district director and senior advisorMichael Yaki… CAMPAIGN EXPERIENCE: Nguyen has extensive campaign experience but would be a novice candidate appealing to old time Burton “machine” Democrats and LGBT constituents to hold the seat. And some downtown corporate folks might like her, given her five years with Pacific Bell government affairs (since acquired by AT&T)…

SAME-SEX FALLOUT: An added wild card – the anticipated US Supreme Court decision in June lifting California’s Proposition 8 ban on same sex marriage. If the ban is lifted, that would make the next Assessor-Recorder very popular when it comes to recording same-sex marriages as it did for Assessor-Recorder Mabel Teng in 2004 after Mayor Gavin Newsom’s short-lived executive order…Nguyen if appointed would become the second Vietnamese American elected after Steve Ngo of the SF College Board and third APA LGBT office holder after School Board member Angie Fa and College Board member Lawrence Wong

Congreswoman Judy Chu

Congreswoman Judy Chu

BIG EASY ROUTE FOR HOUSE?: Odds of unseating stalwarts like Nancy Pelosi or Jackie Speier in San Francisco’s highly Democratic and Asian Pacific American districts? Pelosi and Speier won seats in special elections which are major routes for APAs like Democrat (Judy Chu of East Los Angeles or Doris Matsui of Sacramento) and Republican (former Rep. Charles Djou of Oahu) to enter the Congress (See “Potstickers” on 12/20/12 at No Big Easy as Vietnamese American Republican “Joseph” Cao Quang Anh’s upset incumbent Democrat in a 2008 special election for Louisiana’s 2nd District to represent New Orleans….The unlikely candidate, now captured in filmmaker Leo Chiang’s documentary “Mr. Cao Goes to Washington,” ends up representing a two-thirds Democrat and one-tenth Republican district where nearly three in five residents are African American while most of the three percent APAs are Vietnamese Americans. Cao’s political ambivalence in his 2009-10 term echoes his recent House Republican colleagues’ fault lines in this New Year’s “Fiscal Cliff” vote. KQED-TV (Ch. 9) will broadcast “Mr. Cao” Jan. 15 at 11 pm and Jan. 16 at 5 am. More listings between Jan. 3-17 are at

IN CHARGE: Xmas promotion as Travis Kiyota becomes Vice President for Corporate Affairs, heading PG&E local government relations across 70,000 square miles of Northern and Central California. Just promoted from Senior Director of local government relations….Kiyota becomes one of ten APA Vice Presidents with Senior Vice Presidents Fong Wan of Energy Procurement and General Counsel Hyun Park being the highest ranking APAs among 20,000 employees, including more than 2,900 APA employees comprising one-seventh of the workforce…

PARTY OR RIGHT THING: “Politics is quite brutal…It’s more about political payback. It’s more about party loyalty, more than to do things simply because it’s the right thing to do,” said Rep. Joseph Cao in “Mr. Cao.” The brutality and morality of politics are seen in his two health care reform votes…. Cao argued one-quarter of his New Orleans district was uninsured as he voted for the reform despite Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s pledge that “not one Republican will vote for this bill” in 2009. Cao was the lone Republican to “proudly” support it “according to my conscience” in the 220-215 vote…PAYBACK AGAINST A RINO: That vote led to cancellation of re-election fundraisers while donors demanded refunds as Cao found out what his new name “RINO” meant: “Republican in Name Only”…But in 2010, Cao cast a vote against the final version of the law and the President he idolized. Repulsed by an expansion of abortion, the former Jesuit seminarian deemed the bill an “absolute moral evil” – one of the moral paradoxes he faced from defeating an indicted incumbent in 2008 to facing an African American Democratic challenger Cao attacked for questionable ethics in 2010…On election night, Cao conceded that New Orleans and Jefferson voters had spoken. “It was too much to ask a predominantly Democratic district to send a Republican back to Congress, no matter how strong his record. Or honest his service”…

COMPARE AND DECIDE: After viewing “Mr. Cao Goes to Washington,” an APA politics docu-companion is “Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority” about the pioneering Japanese American Democratic Congresswoman from Hawai`i…

WHO’S GOT IT BETTER THAN THEM: Just turned 49-year old Forty-Niner coach Jim Harbaugh gets praise as developer of pro and college quarterbacks – whether it’s emerging 49er passer Colin Kaepernick or Stanford’s former passer Andrew Luck. Invites inevitable comparisons of him as the second coming of the late 49er/Stanford coach Bill Walsh who groomed Joe Montana andSteve Young into Hall of Famers…But the latter QB came thru then BYU quarterback coach Norm Chow, now 66, who’s finally got his first ever head coaching gig in 2012 with the Hawai`i Warriorsalbeit landing with a thud. But still, Chow’s influence is seen in the Bay Area. Out of four college Heisman winners and nine pro passers he groomed, Chow influenced Heisman and local starters Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart of the Oakland Raiders. A third Heisman was retired former Niner Ty Detmer

IN TRANSITION: Programming entrepreneur Jason Wong stays on as Assembly Democratic Caucus Chair Phil Ting’s rep at the SF Democratic Party central committee after serving as Assemblywoman Fiona Ma’s rep….

LATE FEE WAIVER: Hundreds of late fee waivers for videos helped launched his District 4 supervisor (Sunset) campaign in 2000 and two tries for the SF Democratic County Central Committee. They paved the way for Darryl Honda to be newly minted member of the influential Board of Appeals after the SF Board of Supervisors voted 10-0 early last Dec. to confirm his appointment by Mayor Ed Lee…

MISS ME?: Follow me on Twitter at @SFPotstickers and email Samson Wong at

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.