Northeast Tarrant

Haltom City elected its first Vietnamese American mayor. He’s promising big changes.

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When An Truong was a fighter pilot in the Vietnamese Air Force in the early 1970s, he fought Communists in Laos and Cambodia.

His aircraft was hit by enemy fire and was shot down twice. Holding political office wasn’t on his radar.

But Truong, 70, was easily elected Haltom City’s first Vietnamese American mayor, defeating his opponents with almost 60 percent of the votes.

Truong’s swearing in ceremony is Monday during the council meeting at 7 p.m., and he said it will be conducted in English, Vietnamese and Spanish.

“Haltom City is a diverse community; we have to show that,” he said.

Truong said he was proud the Asian community turned out to vote because that hasn’t always been the case.

“Usually, they don’t care because they don’t understand politics in America,” he said.

Truong, who has served on the city council since 2013, said he ran for mayor because Haltom City needs change, and he believes he won because voters wanted to see someone new.

Before he was elected to the city council, Truong also served on the Economic Development Corporation board.

Truong said he wants to move forward with bringing Haltom City up to date with nearby communities, as the city hall and police departments are “old and inadequate.”

City Hall is over 50 years old, and the police department is in a former grocery store. Voters turned down propositions to build a new city hall and police department in a recent bond election, but Truong said Haltom City is growing and must bring in more businesses.

“You have to spend money to bring in money,” Truong said. He added that Haltom City is bounded by six highways, yet it has no town square or Main Street.

Truong was born in 1948 and grew up in Vietnam when France occupied the country.

He joined the Vietnamese Air Force in 1968 and learned English, so he could come to the United States to become a pilot. He returned to Vietnam, where he fought against the Communists.

After the war ended in 1975, Truong and his family came to the United States as refugees and started out in Pennsylvania, where Truong worked in a grocery store. But they did not like the cold weather and moved to Haltom City in 1980.

Truong said he worked as a police officer in Fort Worth before becoming an undercover investigator for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office.

He is now retired and plans to devote all of his energy to serving as mayor. But he will continue his radio show on Radio Saigon out of Dallas.

David Dang, who owns supermarkets in Haltom City and Arlington, said he met Truong and recruited him to run for the city council because of his background as a police officer and undercover investigator.

“We needed someone who could represent us and speak our language,” Dang said. “An Truong is one of the best.”

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With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.
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