St. Paul mayoral candidate Dai Thao promises to fight inequality

October 6, 2017

Dai Thao doesn’t like being underestimated.

As early as elementary school, he spotted inequalities. He challenged the teacher of his English as a Second Language class: Why weren’t they learning what other students learned? Why were the expectations lower?

“She told me I could leave,” said Thao, a St. Paul City Council member who came to the United States from Thailand with his family as a boy. “So I just got up, and I left.”

It would be a recurring theme in the years to come: Thao, frustrated by inequity and injustice, trying to do something about it.

In his bid for mayor of St. Paul — a race against nine candidates, including two former council members — he’s asking voters to buy into his vision of a city built on equity, trust and providing greater financial opportunities to those who have spent their lives living with less.

He’s also asking them to move past an allegation into whether his campaign tried to solicit a bribe. Thao, 42, has denied it from the start, and the Scott County attorney’s office recently declined to prosecute following an investigation. Now, he wants to move past it, including any anger he may feel toward those who leveled the allegations. 

“I want to be an example to the community,” he said. “So much of the narrative now is white supremacy, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim. Coming to this country, I always thought this was paradise. And it can be. But we need to forgive each other and work together.”

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