I know that all over the blogs for the next two years talk of elections will center on the presidential elections and federal offices. But, like many in these parts, my hopes for REAL change are limited when I look at the candidates.
Almost a year ago Kid Oakland tried to organize the BT community around local progressive candidates. At the time, I participated nominally – mostly because KO is someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for. But my involvement was limited because, even locally, the races seemed to be controlled from the top down. And I didn’t think my voice really mattered. But this year, in very small races for City Council in St. Paul – there is some hope on the way!!
I’d like to introduce you all to Pakou Hang, a 30 year old Hmong woman who is running for St. Paul City Council in her first political race against a 3-term incumbent who is retired from the Police Department and also served on the St. Paul School Board years ago.
Here is Pakou telling her own story:
Yes, from immigrating here with her family as an infant, to graduating from Yale, to running the campaign of State Senator Mee Moua (the first Hmong ever elected to state office) to being Deputy Political Director of Paul Wellstone’s last campaign, Pakou is a force for progessive, grassroots politics. Here’s another video that shows more of her passion (the first voice you will hear is that of State Senator Mee Moua campaigning in the Green Bus for Paul Wellstone):
St. Paul politics all take place within the Democratic party, so both she and the incumbent vied for the party endorsement at ward conventions in March. This town was shocked that Pakou was able to challenge the endorsement process to a virtual tie and so the two are likely to meet in the election this November. But in talking to Pakou this week, she is already beginning to struggle with the need for funds to run her campaign and the pressure from the establishment groups to pay homage to them in a way that betrays her grassroots commitments.
I’m going to do all I can to help and support Pakou because Wellstone’s legacy lives on as we build from the bottom up here in St. Paul.