23-Year-Old Somali Immigrant Wins Office In Lewiston, Maine

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Voting in NYC (Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo)

PORTLAND, Maine (VosiZNeias) — Lewiston, which is the second-largest city in the state of Maine, has elected a Somali American to its city council following a campaign marred by racist attacks and social media threats.

Safiya Khalid, a 23-year-old immigrant from Somalia, soundly defeated a fellow Democrat on Tuesday for a seat on the Lewiston City Council, garnering nearly 70% of the vote to become possibly the youngest ever member of the city council and the first Somali immigrant.

Shrugging off attacks on her skin color and faith, Khalid declared that “community organizers beat internet trolls.”

“I worked really hard. I knocked on thousands of doors. That’s what paid off,” Khalid told The Associated Press(AP) in an interview Tuesday.

Despite being the whitest state in the US, Maine is home to a growing population of Africans who’ve fled their homeland. First- and second-generation candidates from four African countries — Somalia, Congo, Ghana and Nigeria — won seats on city councils and school committees across the state, continuing an established trend, said Mufalo Chitam, executive director of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition.

“There’s been a push for us to have bigger representation in office in the towns,” she said. “That’s where the decisions are made. If we’re not in those offices, then someone is going to make the decisions for us.”

Khalid was the target of ugly personal attacks online before the election. Someone said she should be stoned, while others told her to go back to Somalia. Another shared her home address on a Facebook group. Some of the attacks drove her to tears.

“I just couldn’t take it,” Khalid told The Washington Post Tuesday night. “I was crying so bad. My eyes were completely red.”

However Khalid responded by deleting her Facebook account, deactivating her Twitter account and hitting the streets, knocking on doors whenever she wasn’t working at her job as a caseworker.

Since the Facebook attacks on Khalid stemmed from out of state, and Maine locals generally don’t like outsiders meddling in their affairs, the trolling seemed to backfire and give Khalid an advantage over her rivals.

Somalis began moving to Lewiston two decades ago in search of affordable housing after many settled in Portland, 36 miles away. The city of 36,000 is now home to more than 5,000 Africans.

Khalid was born in Somalia and remembers living in a refugee camp before coming to the United States. As a city councilor, she intends to ensure that there’s affordable housing which is also free from lead contamination,  a nagging problem in the city’s older housing stock. She wants to boost aging infrastructure, bring in investment, and support local businesses, as well as boosting local schools.

“When I came here, I didn’t know how to write my name or speak any word of English. I am who I am because of public education. Our children deserve the highest-quality education,” she said.

Lewiston Mayor Kristen Cloutier said she was impressed by the poise showed by the young politician to ensure people in her community are represented and have a seat at the table.

“If those (messages) had been directed at me, I would’ve been hiding under my bed,” Cloutier said. “I don’t know that I would’ve had the courage to fight another day. That speaks to her resiliency and her dedication.”

 

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14 COMMENTS

    • 1) There is no other news. Vin has to post something.
      2) Anything and everything about Muslims is news since Trump “Ban all Muslims” shigas (The same with
      Russia and Mexico wall.)
      3) It mus have some interest for us if you and educated already posted.

  1. Silly article out there to push some anti trump narriatve. In case you don’t get it the AP is trying to paint a picture of huge victories against trump with the idea that if he is portrayed as the loser it increases the chances of his loose in 2020.
    But this is all fake news . Yes the AP is reporting facts so what’s fake ? The above story is a fake narrative . This was a local yukel kalman Yeager election . Big deal .
    And for the record , the vergina dem win was expected since that state has been going blue . The ky win was due to a very bad low approval of a nasty governor . Many analysts say in ky the reason he got so close and wasn’t crushed was thanks to trump .
    Not at all scared for 2020! Looks like dems are or they wouldn’t post these silly stories

    • Yes is a “Big Deal” Kentucky voted for a Democrat? Its a clear Anti Trump vote. Just look at the map. Al 3 States Kentucky, Virginia and Mississippi. The Rural Counties voted R as always. The suburbs (where Trump killed the Middle Class with SALT = Increased taxes, ) where they voted with their pocketbooks.

  2. And this, my friends, is what makes and keeps America great.

    Equal rights for all, a free press, open and fair elections, and the freedom to post the most obnoxious claims against anyone based on the color of their skin, their heritage, their religion, even the color of their hair.

    Of course some people forget that the right to publish nonsense about a person serving as a high official in the Nazi regime without whom the Nazis could not killed hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews HY”D in a war that ended when they were 14 years old also comes with the right to snopes around and fact-check all the alternative facts promoted by the alt-right. the KKK, the GOP and other hate groups.

    • It also makes America stupid and ungreat. When people whop ascribe to a religon that p[reaches death to america get into a higher office that says something about the stupidity of this country. I personally have no problem with any legal Latino representing us in congress. Mexicans aren’t taught to hate and kill us. Mexicans never terrorized us aside for some drug cartels. Muslims actually killed us and contiue to chant death to america.

      You see the thing you need to get thru your thick head is, nazis hated us for no reason. it wasn’t rational or sensible. Hate for muslims is sensible. When a religon preaches to kill you, you should hate them.

      Also a total lie to call GOP nazis bec of a few hundred KKK. its like calling dems mulism bec of a fe whundred far left radical antifa or muslim haters. its fake news

    • I also don’t think free press or freedom to post any comment on social media makes a country so great. I think its dangerous. The free press is full of liars. Us yidden suffered alot under the failing NYT. It labels Palestinian terror as a “middle east conflict” and justifies their viscous terror attacks. It has yiddisha blit on its hnads. yes it reports facts but how does it say over the sorry about the facts? Yes jews were killed and yes Palestinians live in poor delipatated conditions. Its all facts but whats the story? It lies about that and its a vcious lie. The fake news is our enmey and we need to stop them. Thankfully they are starting to get the mesaage. trump canceld the NYT subscription and Republicans districts are cancelling their library subscriptions. Yidden (Like the democrat Hikind) have been saying for years cancel the failing NYT subscription. Now its picking up steam!

      Same is with freedom of speech. If one can post neo nazis hate on-line or a video of muslims chopping off peoples heads then its no virtue.

        • 1) Its only the inmates
          2) i don’t fully agree with that classification. I do think that that most latino’s cost us lots of money in terms of health care and food programs though.
          3) Not as bad as terrorists

      • “Freedom” is “Dangerous” Please get used to it. I am also an immigrant (Not Russian) I think Freedom is Great. Just look at the alternative. Russia? No Korea? Saudi Arabia? Hungary and other Dictators Trump love. Can you name a single World Class Corporation from those Countries? Just look at Israel. Even more freedom than here in the USA. The PM is indicted for a few cigars. 3 PM/Presidents are sentenced (All in 70 years of History) Today its one of the most advanced Countries in the world. The same 4-5 million Yiden (Jews) who lived in Russia and other similar Countries, after moving to ISRAEL a flourishing Democracy are changing the World. Technology, Medicine. etc. Get over this Alte Russishe Kop of yours. You cant stop progress. America will stay a Democracy IY”H wit or without the Brooklyn/Monsey/Lakewood Jewish vote. If anything maybe learn some lessons from this elected Muslims. They will decide our children/grandchildren welfare. Wouldnt be nicer if Yidelech like you do the same instead sticking to the alte heim or MAGA.

        • Israel has much more censorhsip rules than the USA. Sorry buddy. its much tougher there. Just ask the netura karta how easy it is to protest there. Freedom of speech is limited in Israel too. Muslims can’t post what they want. re the fake news against bibi, yes thats pone area where they seem to be worse and a bit over board than us.

          Suadi arabia is not a backwards country at all. Especially for Muslims their model works great. yes that means killing Kashogi.

          Its funny how your base curses out coprorate America and its greed yet you write, “Can you name a single World Class Corporation from those Countries?”
          Like after how AOC treats Amazon you still think large greedy corp america is g-ds gift?

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