Best Politician - 2010
Too often the moniker of "politician" carries a well-deserved negative connotation, regardless of political party. So being named Best Politician could be a backhanded slam, but not in the case of KimOanh Nguyen-Lam. In a county stocked with more than its fair share of moronic elected officials, Nguyen-Lam stands unsurpassed in character, accomplishments and idealism. A member of the Garden Grove Unified School District Board, she has proven to be neither a party hack nor a demagogue. The 1975 Vietnam War refugee has been a teacher in the U.S. for nearly three decades; fluently speaks Vietnamese, English, Spanish and French; serves on multi-ethnic education-related groups; and was awarded the Congressional Award for Community Service in Orange County in 2004. Her progressivism—not surprisingly—hasn't always won her fans in this notorious bastion of conservatism. In 2005, shameless reactionary political forces blocked her from becoming the nation's first Vietnamese American school superintendent. She was portrayed as a "left-wing, gay-loving, baby-killing communist." Despite those nasty attacks, Nguyen-Lam—whose father was the mayor of Da Nang before the end of the war—remained dignified, which, sadly, is one lesson she hasn't yet been able to teach to our local right-wingers.