Chi Nguyen-Ventura, a first-generation Vietnamese American, is a member of King City's city council in Oregon. Originally chartered as a retirement community, the median resident age is 58 and the city is 86% white. She jokes that when they elected her, the city got four for the price of one - a young, LGBT woman of color. Although she was not the typical councilor candidate, she credits her election to the fact she shares the same values as many of its residents - a simple desire to help the city thrive.
How are you a progressive?
I am a progressive because I challenge the status quo. Change is constant, however, we live in times where change is happening at unprecedented clips. We can certainly see this inflection point in technology. Antiquated policy-making of old is not keeping up with the innovations. Yet the weird conundrum is the more we change, the more we go back to nature. I learned environmental conservationism from attending the most conservative college in the state, from none other than the College of Forestry and Geology. It's best to engage with folks whose livelihoods depend on that natural resource since the policy concepts will most often ensure the proper stewarding of that which they need to be sustainable. Progressives asks the hard questions and tackle the tough stuff; we stand up when something is not right.
Who inspires you?
My late paternal grandfather is my hero and idol. He was a colonel in the ARVN Ranger. He paid the ultimate price for us to experience freedom and democracy. He dedicated his life serving others, be it family or country. I was only lucky enough to have slivers of childhood memory of him, but the stories I hear of his legacy sustain me to this day.
What are you known for in King City?
I known as a pragmatic problem solver and change/trouble maker (depending on which side of the table you're sitting on). I think it's par for the course since I like taking on the tough challenges. I am the youngest Councilor in a city that was historically a retirement community. Prior to my joining, the council's average age was in the 80s, with mostly Caucasian males, except for one female. Though I cannot take full credit, since I've joined, we now have on our council of seven: three females, three persons of color, 3 young (under 40 years old), and 1 LTBGQ. (Sure I counted myself 4 times, so I guess I'm a buy 1-get 3 free deal, what a bargain!) My biggest ask of my new city manager was to help our largely fixed-income constituency diversify our revenue base - which is take advantage of our currently, not-landlocked city, to expansion. This projected our sleepy town into the forefront of our County, Metro regional council of government, and State levels to assert our big hopes and dreams to grow our city.
What was the best advice someone gave you?
Gosh, there are too many to list. But my trouble-maker side wants to rear its head by challenging the question. I think advice is only as good as you pay for it. So whatever advice is given--what's in it for the person giving it? I always check back in with my values before I listen to anything anybody says. Ingrained in all first-generation Asian-Americans is the thought of "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down." But for the large part of my life, I've always put myself in that position. Maybe because I've seen too many friends being bullied for looking different early in my childhood, but for one reason or another, my extroversion has helped me avoid that. I look different but can play a part that helps dispel misconceptions or bring things back to a level of commonalities so that we can bridge differences and build on common shared values.
If you could ask Trump one thing, what would it be?
This is what has stumped me the most because I was literally trying to think of an issue or cause to ask the question on, but in the end I landed with this: because I think so much of who a person is today is based on who they were as a child, I would ask him to share with me how he grew up, like fondest memories and worst memories, etc. There just has to be a reason why he is the way he is and perhaps learning of the child inside this man may help me begin to understand.
What is your favorite quote?
My favourite lately has been Mahatma Gandhi's 7 Deadly Sins:
1. Wealth without work
2. Pleasure without conscience
3. Knowledge without character
4. Business without ethics
5. Science without humanity
6. Religion without sacrifice
7. Politics without principles
- I used to be a cheerleader.
- I am a huge foodie (thanks to my mom)
- I love geeking out with my family playing board games.