Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao could be the first Hmong American woman to lead a major U.S. city.
Polls show she’s neck and neck with fellow councilmember Loren Taylor.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Taylor has a slight lead over Thao 21% – 20% which is within the 4% margin of error.
The poll from the Oakland Chamber of Commerce surveyed 604 likely voters about the 10 candidates vying to replace termed-out Mayor Libby Schaff.
“I think the city is sick and tired of the status quo, to be very honest with you,” said Thao to CBS5. “The status quo that doesn’t take working families into strong consideration.”
Public safety remains a top issue among voters.
“I am the only candidate who has invested the most money into public safety, including violence intervention, violence interrupters,” Thao said.
Thao is the daughter of Hmong refugees. She says the father of her son abused her until she had the courage to leave him. She went on to enroll in college and make a life for herself. She eventually graduated from UC Berkeley. Today she is the first Hmong American in California to be elected to a city council.
She believes she is the only candidate who can bring the various factions in the city together.
“I’m really proud to have the majority of councilmembers endorse my campaign. I come with collaborative leadership,” she said to Oaklandside. They’ve endorsed me and not my opponents. With that said, I first want to connect with every council member and ask them, “What are your top two or three priorities in your district? Let’s roll up our sleeves and get it done.”
She is currently a renter in Oakland and sees the need for more affordable housing in the city.She herself used to live in her car with her son.
“We should focus on preserving affordable housing stock and then building deeply affordable and moderate-rate housing. I do believe in mixed-used housing development as well. It does a couple of things. When you’re putting people of different socioeconomic backgrounds together and living in the same environment, those on the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder can connect with others, increasing their social networks and net worth. As a daughter of refugees, I understand that you only know what you know. If you don’t know that certain different careers exist, you wouldn’t know that you can do that.”
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