Somali community leader Abdirizak Bihi: Warsame's candidacy united our community more than ever. He energized young people. For far too long our community has been electing people to office but we only see them on Election Day when they want our votes. Abdi Warsame promises to stay in the community and we'll hold him accountable. There won't be a language barrier.
Abdi Warsame won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council Tuesday, riding an aggressive campaign to become the highest elected Somali official in the United States.
The victory was significant because thousands of East Africans began arriving in Minneapolis two decades ago but had yet to elect one of their own to the City Council, a move that Warsame and his supporters hope will encourage more participation in civic life.
Warsame secured 64 percent of first-place votes for the Sixth Ward seat. He defeated 12-year Council Member Robert Lilligren, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe who strove to show that he could connect with East African voters even if he didn’t share the same cultural background. He emphasized that he would address racial inequities.
The ward spans Cedar-Riverside, Seward, Elliot Park, Ventura Village, and Phillips West.
Warsame, who left Somali as a child and spent much of his life in the U.K., won the DFL endorsement in April and built a considerable edge going into Tuesday by spending weeks bringing East African supporters to the polls to vote early.
“He might have generated more volunteer hours from those Somali people who are eager to participate in a democratic process than any of the mayoral campaigns,” said attorney Brian Rice, who is advising Warsame. “The [campaign] room is always packed.”
Color code on mayoral precinct map. Hodges (green), Andrew (red), Samuels (blue), Cherryhomes (orange)
Lisa Bender on the election of three youngish council members: "I think what you're seeing is a real excitement about the future of the city."