Hiep Nguyen to run for City Council

A first for Vietnamese-Americans in the city

Hiep Q. Nguyen, a community activist and accountant who came to Boston in 1991, has confirmed that he will be running for City Council at-Large. At 26, he may be the youngest candidate in this year’s race. And according to many, he is the first Vietnamese-American ever to run for the council in Boston.

“I was very surprised when I went a community meeting and knew about his running,” said Van Lan Truong, a long-time community activist who was also the Vietnamese liaison for Mayor Raymond Flynn in the 1980s and 90s. “I’m very happy to see the younger generation getting involved and doing work for the community.”

Nguyen is considered a newcomer to community activism, though he grew up in the area. Reached on the phone Tuesday, March 24, he declined to comment on the race other than to say that he is running.

Nguyen immigrated from Tay Ninh, Vietnam, a town 50 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City in 1991 at the age of 8. His father was a pilot in the South Vietnamese army trained by the U.S. Air Force.

He attended St. William’s Grammar School in Savin Hill and Boston Latin Academy, and then moved on to undergraduate and graduate degrees at Bentley University in Waltham.

Since his recent return to Boston, he has involved himself in efforts to register Vietnamese-American voters in last year’s election and also the resurrection of the financially troubled Vietnamese-American Civic Association where he has become the president of the board of directors. He is also very active in St. Ambrose Church.

Some in the community question Nguyen’s ability to connect to Vietnamese-Americans at such a young age and short experience, though his candidacy will draw interest and likely votes. The presidential election drew votes from thousands of Boston’s Vietnamese in 2008, but less are expected to take part in this year’s mayoral contest.

The real challenge for Nguyen will be appealing to voters from all parts of the city.