ST. PAUL, Minn. (Jan. 1, 2023) — Pa Der Vang is running for Ward 7 St. Paul City Council.
Vang is seeking the seat to be vacated by current councilwoman Jane Prince who announced she is not seeking reelection after serving two terms. The Ward 7 councilmember represents the southern portion of the city’s East Side — to include Dayton’s Bluff, Mounds Park, Swede Hollow, Battle Creek, Highwood, Conway and Eastview.
“I care about the community and hope to use my role as council member to address things such as the rising cost of housing, accessible health and mental health services, improve the conditions of our roads, neighborhoods, and parks, increase transportation options for our families and children, and support family and small business owners to build wealth so that they can provide for their families,” Vang said. “We need people from the community to be at the table making decisions that impact our communities. I have been a long time member of the Eastside. I own a home on the Eastside and my daughter goes to school on the Eastside.”
Vang is an associate professor of social work at St. Catherine University where she has taught for 12 years and developed the Critical Hmong Studies program. During this time she also served as department chair, mission chair for the Liberal Arts, and is currently the faculty president.
“As a professor, I teach a social policy for social change course with a focus on city government and being a city council member will allow me to use this theory in practice,” Vang said. “I have championed all persons of color to hold office because holding office is a way to leverage resources for the most neediest in our communities.”
As a volunteer in the Eastside community for more than 22 years, Vang has served on several community nonprofit boards to include chairing Hnub Tshiab – Hmong Women Achieving Together, with a mission of social, cultural and institutional change to improve the lives of Hmong women. She co-founded the Minnesota Hmong Social Work Coalition which has over 240 members who work to help Hmong enter and stay in the field of social work in order to address the shortage of providers from communities of color. She also chairs the Minnesota Board of Social Work which oversees approximately 16,000 social workers across the state of Minnesota.
Vang has published two books, “Staring Down the Tiger: Stories of Hmong American Women,” published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2020, and “Direct Social Work Practice,” published by Cengage Publishers in 2022. She authored several chapters in “Director Social Work Practice,” published by Cengage Publishers in 2017, along with 13 scholarly articles about Hmong and immigration in journals such as Journal of Social Work, and Hmong Studies Journal.
Vang started her career serving Eastside families in crisis as a social worker, before assisting adults with severe and persistent mental illness for the Wilder Foundation. She also worked with Ramsey County Human Services as an adult crisis worker and as a mental health planning specialist.
After completing her doctorate in 2007, Vang started a career in academia and is an associate professor at St. Catherine University.
“I still practice social work as a therapist,” Vang said. “If I am elected, I will continue in my role as social work professor so that I can continue to learn and connect with students who will become our future leaders.”
Vang said this extensive experience in direct service, policy and leadership, along with a history and grounding in St. Paul’s Eastside, have helped prepare her to represent the voices of the residents of Ward 7. She is running on a platform that recognizes that all residents should have access to all the resources available to them within their city regardless of place in life or identity.
“All residents should have equal outcomes and those from disenfranchised communities should receive the resources needed so that they can live their daily lives without having to worry about their next paycheck,” Vang said.
Vang said she will advocate for affordable housing, quality neighborhoods and streets, community safety efforts that include neighbors, social workers, community organizations and peace officers. She will work with the St. Paul Public schools so that teachers receive adequate support and schools receive needed services so that our children get the best education.
Working parents should not have to struggle to provide food and shelter for their families, she said. As a refugee herself, she grew up with parents who worked hard yet found it difficult to make ends meet. She recognizes that many families are still in the same situation today. She will work hard to advocate for the needs of families on the Eastside.
The General Election will be held on Nov. 7, 2023. Until then Vang said she will be spending time meeting with residents to learn about the things that are important to them.
“I welcome everyone to call me or email me,” Vang said. “I love just being about to sit down and having a conversation with you.”
Pa Der Vang
Candidate for Ward 7 St. Paul City Council
Mailing Address: PO Box 6745, St. Paul, MN 55106