Once homeless, daughter of refugees, Sheng Thao addresses Oakland; To become city's 51st mayor

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Sheng Thao addresses Oakland; To become city's 51st mayor
Once homeless, and also a daughter of refugees, Sheng Thao addresses Oakland in preparation to become the city's 51st mayor.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland City Council Member Sheng Thao will become Oakland's 51st mayor, beating out City Council Member Loren Taylor by less than 700 votes in ranked choice voting.

"We chose Oakland over and over and over. And I am here to tell you that I will deliver on making sure that Oakland comes first -- all the time," said Thao to a round of applause, in her first public address since being elected mayor.

On Wednesday morning, she laid out her priorities for the city in front of City Hall. "Safety, homelessness, and of course, cleaning up our streets. So that means, City Hall must and will re-open," Thao said.

Thao talked of filling vacancies at the Oakland Police Department as well as redoubling efforts to get guns off the streets as part of her safety plan. She says she will work more closely with California State Attorney General Rob Bonta, new Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, and the community, to ensure the work the is done correctly.

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"That involves doubling down on violence prevention programs that we now know reduces violent crime. It means addressing the root causes of crime, by focusing on creating more jobs and more opportunities for Oaklanders," Thao said.

Thao, who is the daughter of refugees from Laos, shared how she and her infant son were once homeless and lived her car to escape domestic violence. She says housing is another of her priorities.

"We are going to have an aggressive housing policy that protects renters, fights displacement and treats our unhoused with the dignity that they deserve," Thao said.

Former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan praised Thao's plan to bring in more tourism and more resources for small businesses.

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"That she was going to market the city economically. I don't think we have been doing that for a while. That she was really going to pay attention to the core infrastructure of the city -- the parks, the roads, the buildings of the city -- I think that's both common sense, and it is what the people of the city want," Quan said.

Oakland City Council Member Carroll Fife says Thao takes over with the backing of the majority of city council, which will help to unify a fractured City hall.

"I think this is really big and it shows that we are moving away from the status quo, into something that will definitely benefit the City of Oakland a lot more deeply than it has been over the last eight years," Fife said.

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Outgoing Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who endorsed Taylor, points out that Thao is inheriting an Oakland with new affordable housing in the pipeline, one of the highest credit ratings the city has ever had, and new programs to benefit Oakland's youth like universal preschool and scholarship programs like Oakland Promise.

Some of Schaaf's advice to the new mayor is to "build big partnerships sometimes with people that don't agree to really develop comprehensive solutions to problems that have tremendous buy-in."

Thao will be sworn in as mayor in January.

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