(GIN) – Voters in the Minnesota city of St. Louis Park turned out in force for Nadia Mohamed, a 27-year-old Somali American, choosing her as the city’s first Black, first Somali, and first Muslim mayor.
Mohamed easily defeated Dale Anderson, a former banker and continuing education teacher, by a margin of 58% to 41%.
“I am very happy to win as a Somali American, Muslim, migrant and Black [person],” she told VOA’s Somali Service. “I say thank you to all of those who supported me in this. It is our victory.”
Maine State Rep. Deqa Dhalac was the first Somali American to serve as mayor of an American city in 2021, when South Portland’s city council selected her for the role. Mohamed becomes the first Somali mayor in American history elected directly by voters.
“I have lived in this city for 18 years,” said Mohamed. “I grew up and finished my school here, so it was easy for me to get elected because people know me.”
Over the past few elections, racially and ethnically diverse candidates have won elections and bring new perspectives to Minnesota city government.
Mohamed said she and her family moved to the suburban city west of Minneapolis when she was 10 years old. Nearly two decades later, the 27-year-old leader celebrated an election night victory with her family and the community she loves.
“I was thrilled and over the moon,” Mohamed said. “It’s been like a moment of a lifetime.”
Mohamed said she plans to dedicate her tenure to elevating and addressing the concerns of St. Louis Park’s roughly 50,000 residents.
In 2019, Mohamed was elected to the city council when she was 23 years old. After serving for four years, she decided to launch a bid for mayor.
The campaign was hard fought, she said, and critics often hurled insults at her on social media for not only her young age, but also her Somali heritage.
“People are filled with hate and don’t want you to be a part of their neighborhoods or part of their community because they don’t want to share that,” Mohamed said.
But her Nov. 7 victory put an end to any questions of belonging, she said.
“If you don’t want to share, you can go somewhere else,” she said. “But I’m staying here.”