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Tuesday November 8, 2022 — California General Election
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City of OaklandCandidate for Mayor

Photo of Sheng Thao

Sheng Thao

Oakland City Councilmember
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Public Safety - investing in getting to the root of crime while ensuring we can respond and investigate current crimes. This means expanding our Department of Violence, MACRO programming, Youth Summer Jobs Program and stopping school closures.
  • Ending homelessness- as someone who experienced homelessness myself, I am committed to fighting for real solutions for homelessness and housing first as a model. This means investing in more affordable housing and services.
  • A cleaner, greener Oakland- continuing my work on Council as the parks and open space leader by investing in more trees, open space, and recreation services while investing in ending pollution, illegal dumping, and the destruction of native habitats.



Profession:Oakland City Councilmember
Councilmember, Oakland City Council — Elected position (2019–current)
Chief of Staff, Oakland City Council, At-Large Council Office (2016–2018)
Policy & Communications Director, Oakland City Council, At-Large Council Office (2014–2016)


University of California, Berkeley Bachelor of Arts, Legal Studies - Minor in Urban Planning (2014)
Merritt College, Oakland Class Valedictorian Chancellor’s Trophy Award Associates Degree, Social Behavioral Science and Legal Studies (2012)


City Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao is a barrier breaking Councilmember and one of our most creative, substantive, and effective leaders on housing, homelessness, and public safety. She’s known for her inspiring life story of perseverance and her unwavering commitment to standing up for those without a voice. Now, Sheng Thao is ready to lead our city as mayor—because Oakland’s time is now.


Sheng grew up in poverty, the 7th of 10 kids. Her parents met in a refugee camp in Thailand after each fled their home country of Laos and the genocide against the Hmong people. Sheng’s mom, widowed and eight months pregnant, had been shot in the arm during her escape. Sheng’s dad had helped many other refugees flee across the Mekong River during his journey. Sheng’s parents immigrated to America, settling in Stockton, where they would make a living farming vegetables. It was here Sheng was born.


As a kid, Sheng’s family was often on social services. For a time, they lived in public housing. Sheng grew up with the very real fear of not having a stable home, so she understands what so many families worry about every day. Sheng got her first job at 16, and left home at 17. In her early 20s, she found herself in an abusive relationship, isolated from family—and pregnant. Sheng was able to escape this domestic violence, but soon had a baby and nowhere to go. For months, Sheng and her son, Ben slept on strangers’ couches, and sometimes in her car.


When Ben was 10 months old, Sheng got a job at Merritt College, and also started taking classes. And, with the help of welfare, and a Head Start program for Ben, she put herself through school. She became class Valedictorian, then transferred to UC Berkeley, where she co-founded a food access program for low-income students and graduated with a degree in legal studies.


Finding her calling in public service, Sheng joined the office of Oakland’s Councilmember At-Large, which represents the entire city, and worked her way up to Chief of Staff. In that role, Sheng helped manage multiple City budgets, fought for affordable housing, helped small businesses open, worked to get guns off our streets, and fought for cleaner air and water. Sheng knew she could do even more as an elected official herself. So she ran for City Council District 4 and won, becoming the first Hmong-American woman Councilmember in California history. As a Councilmember, Sheng helped bring the Council together, change the tone at City Hall, and finally break through years of gridlock to make progress on critical issues.


In each role she takes on, Sheng’s colleagues elevate her into leadership positions. She’s currently Council President Pro Tem and chairs the Rules and Legislation Committee. Sheng received the 2021 Powerful Women of the Bay Award for her work on behalf of Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods, and has been honored by the Alameda Labor Council for her record of delivering for working families. Sheng is also recent past President of the League of California Cities API Caucus, and has served on boards for the Redwood Heights Association and Oakland Asian Cultural Center. Recently, Sheng authored legislation to make Oakland the first CA abortion rights sanctuary city and brought together big and small business, organized labor, community and elected leaders, to unite around one progressive business tax proposal, from multiple proposals, to create much needed revenue for Oakland.  She will bring 


Sheng lives near Joaquin Miller Park with her partner, Andre, 15-year old son, Ben, their 8-year old daughter, Brooklyn and lively beagle, Shiloh. Ben and Brooklyn attend public schools, where Ben plays incredible cello. 

Who gave money to this candidate?

To see who is funding campaigns in Oakland, visit Open Disclosure Oakland.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

As the current District 4 Oakland City Councilmember and Council President Pro Tem, Sheng Thao is motivated to fight for creative, substantive, and effective solutions to the major problems facing Oakland, in particular: housing, homelessness, and an improved quality of life. Sheng is the daughter of refugees - her parents came to America to escape the genocide in Laos against the Hmong people. She grew up in poverty in Stockton, California, the 7th of 10 children and her family depended on public housing and social services. Sheng came to public service, having seen the impact that policy had on her and herfamily and will always fight for working families.   She is a domestic violence survivor, and a graduate of Oakland’s Merritt College and UC Berkeley, which she attended as a single mom to her now 16 year old son, Ben. After Cal, she worked at the City Council for years, working my way up from intern to Chief of Staff for the At-Large Councilmember, before she was elected in 2018.  


Since long before she came into office, she has fought hard and led on critical issues, fighting for an Oakland that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected. Sheng believes our time is now for a more affordable, safer, cleaner, and greener Oakland that can continue to be a place for working families to thrive and she is the candidate who has the track record to deliver those results.


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