The First Hmong American Woman Mayor of Oakland, CA

Sheng Thao, a trailblazer in American politics, made history as the first Hmong American woman to ascend to the mayoral office in Oakland, California. Born in a Thai refugee camp in the late 1970s, she immigrated to the United States with her family as a child and settled in Oakland, where she attended public schools and later earned a political science degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s in Public Administration from San Francisco State University.

Thao’s journey in public service started as a community organizer, where she dedicated herself to improving access to education, healthcare, and other services for low-income families and immigrants. Her advocacy for affordable housing, tenants’ rights, and workers’ rights earned her recognition in the Asian Pacific Islander community.

In 2012, Thao’s tireless efforts were rewarded when she was elected to the Oakland City Council, representing the city’s 4th district. As a council member, Thao tackled critical issues such as crime reduction, economic development, and affordable housing. She also made it a priority to strengthen the relationship between the police and the community and address the growing homelessness crisis in the city.

Her bid for the mayoral office in 2022 was marked by a platform that aimed to create more affordable housing, reduce crime, and improve the city’s schools. Thao emphasized the need for greater economic opportunity for all Oakland residents, especially those from marginalized communities. Her message resonated with the voters, and in November 2022, she was elected as the mayor of Oakland.

Thao’s election was a significant milestone, not only for the Hmong community but also for Asian American representation in politics. Since taking office, Thao continues to tackle the pressing issues facing Oakland with determination and a commitment to her constituents.

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