First Asian American elected to N.O. City Council

Cyndi Nguyen beat incumbent James Gray to win the District E seat.

Saturday's election was historic for another candidate on Saturday. Cyndi Nguyen becomes the first Asian American elected to the New Orleans City Council.

Eyewitness News met with her Tuesday as she was prepping for an early Thanksgiving meal. 

"I am normally a person who picks up the phone and make an order," Nguyen said.

She's quick to point out, the kitchen is not where she's in her element.  Her element is being out and about helping people.

"We wanted to create a space that was going to bring families together," she said.

She's been brining families together for 16 years, leading a non-profit group, helping seniors, youth and assisting low income families. Nguyen has helped turn the Vietnamese Initiatives in Economic Training program into a vital community resource. 

She says her inspiration and passion for the community comes from her own life's lessons growing up.

"I got into trouble when I was very young, and my parents were like, we got to save you, and so they end up sending me away, I ended up going to a convent."
 
Nguyen also watched her own family members struggle with life's challenges.

"Monty spent 10 years incarcerated he couldn't get off of drugs," she said.

Monty is Nguyen's younger brother. She says he passed away from complications from addiction.

"I advocate for so many issues, and I couldn't even help my little brother, now I have an opportunity to help more Monty's."

Nguyen earned a bachelor's degree in social work in Iowa, but New Orleans is where her family settled down. She moved to New Orleans in 1975 with her family, refugees, from Vietnam.

She now becomes the first Asian American to serve on the council, representing District E.

"My job is now to unite everybody."

How she plans to do that is through community partnerships, and bringing businesses to New Orleans East.

"I truly believe that when you have local investors, they don't abandon you when things get rough."  
She gives thanks to her supporters for helping her win her seat.

"I believe the swearing-in ceremony is May 5th, I'm going to be 48 May 4th so it's a wonderful birthday present for me." 

She says it will be a blessing to serve everyone.  

Interesting fact about the new District E City Council member: Nguyen says she chose her American name after Cyndi Lauper who she loved growing up. She and her husband have 6 kids.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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