Bio: Born in Laos, the middle child in a family of 10 children that fled to Thailand when he was 5. He lived in a refugee camp before coming to the U.S. in 1983. He's married with five children and has lived in St. Paul since 2010.
Education: Montana State University, Metropolitan State University.
Work experience: IT manager for Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.
Political and public experience: Worked on the 2008 Obama campaign with Take Action Minnesota; organizer with ISAIAH; first Hmong member of the St. Paul City Council.
Main issues: Priorities include building the city's employment opportunities, expanding the city's tax base and promoting equity and small business. "I was a kid growing up poor in public housing, fighting off the roaches and the mice so that I could have a meal, too, and we still have too many families that struggle like that. We just can't have that anymore."
Why he is running: Thao would be the city's first Hmong mayor and says fighting poverty is a top priority.
"When I was 5 years old, I saw what a bad government can do to its people. I saw my sister die right in front of me. And if I have the opportunity to come to this country, I'm not going to squander that opportunity. ... My whole life experience of coming to this country, embracing this country, I never want anybody in the city of St. Paul to experience the hurt, the pain of a bad government. ... I'm going to serve everybody."
What you may not know about him: Thao once played strong safety on the Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School football team.
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