I am the story of refugee to public servant. As I fled communist Vietnam and found shelter in a refugee camp at the age of 17, I experienced being left out in the cold and going to bed with an empty stomach. My family and I endured poverty – all that we had was taken from us – and we stared death in the face. I know and understand what it is like being a parent working multiple jobs to provide for your family, being a business owner struggling to stay afloat and make payroll, and stretching each dollar as far as it will go. I understand Orange County’s struggles because I have lived them.

In 1980, I was on the verge of being forced to join the military and further the oppression instituted by my home Country’s government. My family and I immediately planned our escape. Nearing the end of our journey to seek freedom, my family was interviewed by the U.S. Immigration Officer who would determine if we could seek sanctuary in the refugee camp. I promised to myself – if the United States of America saves us, I will do all that I can to give back when I reach the Land of the Free – and that is exactly what I have done. I started my business 30 years ago, providing much needed services to our community, and for the past decade I have given back to this Country that has given me everything by serving as Mayor and Councilmember.

It is disheartening to see the situation we all are facing today. Everyday, the hard working people of Orange County sacrifice to make a living, provide for their families, and make our economy run. The COVID-19 pandemic and response has placed a burden on families, businesses, and our communities as a whole. ​The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every life around the Country and Orange County is not an exception. Here in Orange County, thousands of seniors who should have already received the COVID-19 vaccination to protect themselves are being left without the necessary resources to schedule their vaccination and receive transportation to the County’s vaccination super sites.

In the urgency of life or death, a scenario I am all too familiar with, I am proposing the immediate creation of a COVID-19 Vaccination Registration Program that will benefit all residents. This Program would place a focus on those qualified for vaccination in underserved communities, often ignored populations, veterans and seniors, the vision and hearing impaired, residents with physical disabilities, and those with technological and transportation challenges or limitations.

Currently, vision impaired residents, those with physical disabilities, veterans and seniors, residents without necessary technological access or skills, those without transportation, and non-English speaking residents are being abandoned and left without assistance. As the fifth largest county in America and with vast resources available, Orange County must set up a genuine, practical program to help those within the County’s underserved communities and the County’s most vulnerable population to get registered for their COVID-19 vaccination.

Lip service is easy to come by for many elected officials. But when faced with a life or death situation, lip service is not good enough. As County Supervisor, I will implement the aforementioned program and will spearhead the development of a Community Service Center in the 2nd District so that all Orange County residents can be better served. This Community Service Center is needed now more than ever to provide critical services to our most vulnerable and those in underserved communities.

I would be honored to serve as a new voice in good governance. I ask that you visit my website at ​www.voteformichaelvo.com​ or contact me at michael@voteformichaelvo.com.

Michael Vo is the mayor of Fountain Valley.

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