ST. PAUL, MN — The mayoral race in St. Paul has added another candidate to its ranks, Ward 1 City Councilman Dai Thao announced in a press release that he would run for Mayor.
The Pioneer Press reports Thao will be joining school board member Tom Goldstein and former City Councilmen Pat Harris and Melvin Carter III in the race.
In early December, Mayor Chris Coleman announced that he would not seek re-election and would instead run for Governor.
Thao came to the United States with his family in 1983 as a political refugee from Laos. He was elected to the St. Paul City Council in 2013.
Thao originally told the Pioneer Press in August that he was not interested in running and needed to take of his daughter.
In a press release on his new website, Thao states:
“I am excited to announce my candidacy for Mayor of the great City of St. Paul. Right now, St. Paul is at a pivotal moment in need of leadership that will stand with the people despite the uncertainty of what goes on at the state and federal government. We need bold leadership that will tackle on the largest racial disparities gap that is crippling our economy, ensure that people are invested in because they are the infrastructure of our community and economy, and make sure that our city services operate equitably across the City. To do this, our community demands and deserves continued leadership from an invested, hardworking and responsive leader who can both listen to, empathize with and lead the diverse residents of St. Paul. I am a proud and determined progressive, and I will help us realize a more prosperous and secure future – a goal that is held dear by all of our residents, their families and friends.”
As a recipient of the St. Paul Foundation’s Facing Race Ambassador Award in 2016, which celebrates anti-racism activist, Thao has been a huge proponent for better race relations within the St. Paul community. Thao’s campaign plan includes expanding fire and police services in St. Paul while improving the relationship between police officers and community members.
As the first Hmong-American City Councilmember, Thao has advocated for three additional light rail stops in St. Paul, has advocated for Hmong history to be included in St. Paul Public School curriculum, and has tried to help members of the Hmong community become more active in St. Paul government.
During his time on the City Council, Thao has used his own personal experiences to try to help the people of St. Paul. He was an active supporter of paid leave for parents and sick time. Thao used his own experiences with his young daughter who had medical complications to advocate for the new regulations.
Thao would become the first Hmong-American to be elected as Mayor of St. Paul should he win.
The election for St. Paul Mayor will occur in November 2017.