The city of St Paul held city council elections this Tuesday 5 November and Twin Cities DSA recommended members volunteer support for Nelsie Yang, candidate for city council in Ward 6.
Twin Cities DSA did not host formal endorsement meetings this year, however a group of chapter members approached the elected leadership asking for an urgent decision and public statement on supporting this campaign in the final days. The chapter members included St Paul residents, comrades working with the Nelsie campaign, and people with close ties to some of the communities that Nelsie Yang hopes to represent.
With a great deal of deliberation packed into a short period of time, the Steering Committee of Twin Cities DSA formally requested that any member of our chapter or member of the community sympathetic to our efforts to direct any available volunteer hours available to assist the Nelsie Yang campaign in Ward 6 of St Paul, to post about her campaign, and post their support on social media.
Months of labor went into the ultimate success of the Nelsie Yang campaign in winning the Ward 6 seat, and Twin Cities DSA was proud to help all of those dedicated members of the community see the campaign through in the final stretch.
Nelsie is a working-class Hmong-American woman who was a Bernie delegate in 2016, and for the past year, we have had members of DSA and severals socialists of color running her campaign in the East Side of St. Paul.
Nelsie’s parents were refugees fleeing war-torn Laos, who settled first in Duluth then north Minneapolis and finally the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul. Even after her family was able to gain some economic stability, the housing crisis of 2008 stripped away even the modest gains her parents had achieved. These hardships, combined with reconnecting with the family and communities her parents had been forced to leave behind in Laos, drove Nelsie to dedicate herself to building her community and towards building justice within her community. Starting with city elections, then becoming the youngest Hmong Bernie delegate in 2016, and the fight for $15 back in St Paul; Nelsie has become a tireless fighter towards justice.
Ward 6 is in the northern portion of East Side, St. Paul which numerous communities of color call home. The neighborhood includes a large part of the Hmong communities that have made a home for themselves across the northern half of St. Paul. Today there are many systemic issues facing the working class communities in and around Ward 6. Some of the most pressing that Nelsie focused on in her campaign are:
- Economic Justice
- Affordable Housing
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Infrastructure Equity & Safety
- Climate Justice
Working class communities never struggle in a vacuum; those struggles are always in the shadow of organized, intentional capitalist interests. The labor of the communities in Ward 6 prepares our food, constructs our buildings, cares for our sick and so much more to keep our entire local economy humming. However the wealth those communities create is never theirs to keep. Instead the working people of Ward 6 must give far too much of their wealth to distant owners, absentee landlords and gentrifying developers. The campaign that united around Nelsie Yang continues seeking to use the levers of city government towards a more just system.
Despite all the well financed interests hoping to maintain a status quo with only minor changes, Nelsie’s campaign held its own by being powered from and by the working class communities of Ward 6.
As Twin Cities DSA moves forward, many within the chapter feel that her campaign represents an example of the type of community-based, movement-led, anti-capitalist electoral campaign we should prioritize when considering both formal chapter-wide endorsement and offering volunteer labor as individuals.