Missing Dan Nguyen-Tan

Where are today’s young, smart progressives hiding?

The other day, the CN&R office got some snazzy new carpet to go along with our newly painted walls. And during some shuffling around and purging of old stuff, we came across an original illustration depicting certain City Council candidates in a general election back in the early aughts, more than a decade ago (pictured below).

I could tell it was that long ago because I recognized some of the faces, namely Coleen Jarvis, Larry Wahl, Steve Bertagna and Dan Nguyen-Tan. But I couldn’t put my finger on a date. So, I headed to our editorial morgue, which comprises, in bound volumes, each and every issue of the CN&R going back to its beginning in the late 1970s. Our website’s archives go back only to 2001.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to dig too far to come up with the volumes from fall of 2000. I found that illustration by Steve Ferchaud on the cover of the Nov. 2 issue. And when I dug into the accompanying story, things became clear. The faces I didn’t recognize were that of current Chico Mayor Scott Gruendl (I was thrown off by the hat, I think), and another three candidates who didn’t make the cut that election: Barbie Boeger, DNA and Nancy Wolfe. (Jarvis, Wahl, Bertagna and Nguyen-Tan won seats.)

I was still in college back in 2000 and didn’t cover that election cycle. But I was involved in each one in the years since, either here at the CN&R, back at the local daily paper or at Chico State’s student paper. That got me thinking about the candidates over the years and how impressed I was back in the day with Nguyen-Tan, who was in his mid-20s when he got elected.

Nguyen-Tan, who seemed like a genuinely nice person, was sharp and represented people his age very well from the dais. He left for San Francisco sometime after deciding to not seek re-election to the City Council back in 2004. I cannot see him coming back to his hometown of Chico anytime soon, and, in my opinion, Chico hasn’t seen a young candidate in the years since who comes close to being able to provide that level of representation.

Indeed, where are the young, smart progressives of today? And will any of them be on the ballot next November? It’s not too early to start campaigning.