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Friday, March 31, 2023

Russel Balenger to fill Dai Thao’s unexpired term on St. Paul City Council

The St. Paul City Council will choose charity founder Russel Balenger to fill the remaining time left on Dai Thao’s term on Wednesday.

Balenger will occupy the Ward 1 seat, which includes the Midway’s Allianz Field Major League Soccer stadium and portions of the neighboring districts of Summit-University, Frogtown, and those substantially connected by University Avenue and the Green Line light rail track.

The municipal council last week conducted interviews with seven contenders, including Balenger. 22 people competed for the position, which is valid through 2023.

Balenger was up in the Rondo district of St. Paul and also has residences in Chicago and Ann Arbor. He is the creator and leader of the Circle of Peace Movement, which brings together community people, nonprofits, and law enforcement to work toward racial reconciliation and nonviolent conflict resolution.

In a written statement, Balenger stated, “I am looking forward to the chance to continuing the work of making Ward 1 a strong and enduring example of a great place to live.” I’ve worked hard throughout my life to get this position, and I’ll do what’s best for the residents in my neighborhood.

As the first Hmong council member in the city, Thao, who left his position to assume one in Sarasota, Florida, was elected in November 2013. The seat is a representation of Frogtown, Summit-University, and adjacent corners of neighborhoods that are mostly connected by University Avenue, the Green Line light-rail route, their ethnic variety, and rising concerns about housing affordability.

Belanger and the other candidates agreed not to run for office again the next year in order to complete Thao’s term. The victor of the election in November 2023 will hold office for four years.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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