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Somalis Surge on U.S. Ballots

FILE: U.S. Representative and Somali immigrant Ilham Omar (D-MN) introduces Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a campaign event in Nashua, New Hampshire. Taken December 13, 2019.

Nearly a dozen Somali Americans are running for legislative seats in four states from Maine to Washington State as the newcomers seek to join the political process.

Somali Americans are seeking to join the political process in greater numbers during the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.

Along with Minnesota U.S. Representative Ilham Omar, the first Somali to win a House seat, a number of other immigrants from that wartorn nation are seeking seats in state legislatures.

Ismail Mohamed, Candidate for Ohio House of Representatives, says the nature of the U.S. being a nation of immigrants inspired his bid for office.

"This is what makes America unique in a way," he said, adding "Despite where you're from, despite what religion you were brought up in or you know what your last name is, you can come here and still, still be able to achieve your dreams and, you know, live up to your expectations."

Molly Herman, Citizenship and Civic Engagement Manager for the Immigrant Welcome Center in Portland, Maine, applauds the diversity these new candidates bring to the political forum.

"Getting new individuals, new perspectives, new or different backgrounds, people coming from all types of places, I think is really important, in continuing a successful democracy."

Her sentiments are echoed by Mana Abdi, candidate for Maine House of Representatives.

"Our government should be reflective of its citizens. And if it's not, then can we confidently and comfortably say that we're serving people adequately?"

Munira Abdullahi, another candidate for Ohio House of Representatives, wants her race to be inspirational.

"I really want young women and young women of color especially to look at me and say, like, if I really want to do this, I can do it myself. And it's you have to see yourself to to imagine yourself to be in the space."

Ohio candidate Ismail Mohamed added that the bottom line for voters isn't color or nationality, it's having representatives who will address their pressing needs.

"Folks are not really concerned about, you know, my ethnicity. It's been mostly the issues. When I'm knocking on doors, it's jobs, it's housing, it's safety."