Council member who made history will now run for mayor in St. Paul

Dai Thao became the first Hmong-American council member in St. Paul history.

Dai Thao made history in 2013 when he became the first Hmong-American council member in St. Paul.

And now he's got his eyes on the next office up.

Thao announced Monday he will run for mayor of St. Paul in the 2017 elections. He'll be one of the (probably many) people looking to succeed Chris Coleman, who has already said he will run for governor in 2018 rather than seek re-election.

"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," Thao said in his announcement, calling himself a "proud and determined progressive."

Thao was elected the Ward 1 council member in 2013 – which is not a regular election year. He won in a special election, after the previous council member stepped down in the middle of his term. Thao then won re-election in 2015.

Ward 1 is in the middle of St. Paul, and includes some of the city's most diverse areas, both racially and economically. The entire Frogtown/Thomas-Dale neighborhood is within that ward. More than one-third of the neighborhood is Asian, while 30 percent is black and 20 percent is white, MN Compass data shows.

More than half of the households there earn less than $35,000 a year.

If he won in 2017, Thao would be the first non-white mayor in St. Paul's history.

His vision for St. Paul includes more libraries and parks, safer neighborhoods, better education, fairer taxes, an expansion of the racial equity work Coleman started, a committee made up of business leaders, and more.

"I have worked hard to unite the people of St. Paul across race and cultures, neighborhoods and incomes, generations and political labels. The people of our city have shown me that they want to fight together for common dreams, rather than fight each other over our fears," he said.

Who else is running?

There are a few other candidates who have said they'll run for mayor.

The Pioneer Press says Pat Harris and Melvin Carter III – also former council members – have announced they'll run. Carter III is actually who left the Ward 1 council member seat in 2013, opening the door for Thao in a special election months later.

Former school board member Tom Goldstein has also said he'll run.

St. Paul will use ranked choice voting once again for its city elections.

Elections in 2017 will be held Nov. 7.

Next Up

Joel Eriksson Ek

Eriksson Ek's hat trick completes Wild's rally over Jets

A late review helped the Wild win their home opener.

Screen Shot 2021-10-19 at 8.11.35 PM

Watch: Marcus Foligno starts fight with a superman punch

Foligno was not messing around in the first period.

Union Gospel Mission graffiti side by side - Duluth PD

Vandals target longstanding Duluth soup kitchen, transitional housing site

Union Gospel Mission has been operating in the city since 1922.

i-94 crash st. michael - 2021.10.19

At least 1 dead after 'serious crash' on I-94 in St. Michael

That side of the highway is expected to be closed for at least a few hours.

House for sale

The crazy Twin Cities housing market is showing signs of slowing down

Agents are seeing fewer multiple offers and no inspections are less prevalent.

Ben Simmons

Simmons' reunion with 76ers lasts mere days, chance for Wolves?

Woj says the Sixers remain "steadfast" in their plans for Simmons.

mitchell ottinger

Sub teacher involved in 'sextortion' of more than 10 minors pleads guilty

Some of the minors he knew from the school district where he worked.

flickr ice castles new brighton 2020 - Greg Gjerdingen

The Ice Castles, a winter favorite, are coming back to the Twin Cities

The popular attraction was canceled last winter due to COVID.

joey meatballs

4 new vendors coming to Rosedale's POTLUCK food hall

Three restaurants and a VR company are opening soon.

flickr - Lorie Shaull - Line 3 pipeline Palisade July 2021

Enbridge misses deadline to fix its groundwater blunder

The company had 30 days to stop the leak it caused by not following its submitted plans.

wikimedia commons - the beach boys 2019 - joergens.mi

Beach Boys bringing 2021 holiday tour to Minnesota

The iconic band's "Holiday Harmonies" tour stops at Treasure Island just before the new year.


Oh so that's what St. Paul's mayor is doing next – running for governor

Just like a lot of people thought, St. Paul's mayor has his eyes on a higher office.

More Democrats line up to challenge Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges

Betsy Hodges was elected as a Democrat. All three people that have said they'll run against her in 2017 are also doing so as Democrats.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges says she's not done yet, will run for re-election

She's made challenging police policies part of her platform – but been criticized for not enough progress.

Yes, there's an election: Your guide to the 2017 St. Paul mayoral race

For the first time in 16 years, there's no incumbent in the race.

5 things to know about new St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter

Melvin Carter's victory on Tuesday was a resounding one.

Charges: St. Paul councilor helped elderly woman cast election ballot

St. Paul City Council member Dai Thao is facing three charges.

Kassim Busuri

St. Paul council member facing accusations of homophobia

Old Facebook posts made by Kassim Busuri have surfaced.

Yes, there's an election: Your guide to the 2017 Minneapolis mayoral race

16 people are running, and police reform is a big issue.