Oakland’s next mayor is an example of Hmong American political success

The Thaos still clung to traditions, including the Hmong language and the practice of shamanism, which made Ms. Thao self-conscious in the predominantly white, working-class neighborhood where she grew up.

Oakland's next mayor is an example of Hmong American political success

“I remember growing up thinking, why can't we be like everyone else?” she remembered. “But it's such a beautiful culture that, in hindsight, I wish I had grown up with other Hmong people so I could be proud of who I am much sooner.”

A self-described “rebellious” teenager, Ms. Thao left home at 17 and soon found herself in an abusive relationship, she said. At 20, she spent several months alternating between living in a car and cruising on the couch with her son, then a baby.

Later, while working in a full-time administrative position, he enrolled in a community college and later transferred to the University of California, Berkeley. After graduation, he began to make his way in local politics in .

When Ms. Thao was ready to run for City Council, clan elders sprang into action and helped mobilize a statewide network of Thaos and other Hmong residents to raise money and volunteer for her campaign, Louansee Moua said. When Ms. Thao won the race, the Thao clan organized a baci ceremony attended by over 500 people for her in Merced, California, during which many in the community tied a blessing cord around her wrists so she would have good luck.

When it came to Mrs. Thao's mayoral run this year, the clan was once again eager to help.

“There is this strong cohesive network within the Hmong community and the feeling that because she is Thao and we are Thao, of course we have to help her,” Louansee Moua explained.

To win Oakland, Ms. Thao relied on a broad coalition of voters who supported her progressive policies, as well as backing and funding from major unions that have influence in the heavily Democratic city.

Disclaimer: This story was automatically generated by a computer program and was not created or edited by Journalpur Staff. Publisher: Journalpur.com

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