Nelsie Yang, Dai Thao win St. Paul City Council seats in competitive races

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Nelsie Yang is holding her daughter's hand.
Nelsie Yang was announced the winner in St. Paul’s City Council Ward 6 race on Friday. Yang defeated Kassim Busuri to represent the city's east side.
Nina Moini | MPR News

The St. Paul City Council will have five women and two men — with three people of color.

The newest council member is a 24-year-old organizer and daughter of refugees. Nelsie Yang will be the first Hmong-American woman elected to the St. Paul City Council, and will serve the east side’s Ward 6.

She prevailed Friday after Ramsey County election officials spent the day counting and redistributing votes from Tuesday's election to set winners in two wards. St. Paul uses a ranked choice voting system.

In Ward 1, incumbent Dai Thao won by about 300 votes against his nearest challenger, Anika Bowie.

Yang won the seat held by Kassim Busuri, who was appointed by the council earlier this year when longtime council member Dan Bostrom retired.

Moments after she found out she'd won, Yang said she'll work on issues like climate change, livable wages and affordable housing.

"I just want everyone to be able to live a very dignified life and to live in a community of joy,” Yang said, “and it takes people actually driving that to make it happen and this is what my work is all about."