Nadia Mohamed is the first Somali American woman to be elected mayor of St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The 27-year-old is also the first Somali-American mayor elected in the United States.
She told CNN, “It feels amazing. Honestly, I’m grateful, I am thankful to the voters of St. Louis Park for voting me in.” She told the outlet that she and her family moved to the suburbs west of Minneapolis when she was 10 years old.
Mohamed, who is 23 years old, was elected to the city council in 2019. She chose to run for mayor after serving for four years. She said that the campaign was difficult, and critics constantly insulted her on social media, noting not only her youthful age but also her Somali origin.
The 27-year-old intends to use her position to raise and address the problems of St. Louis Park’s approximately 50,000 inhabitants.
“I am somebody from the community,” she remarked. “I want to include people’s voices and highlight their stories – as I would have wanted somebody to do for me – regardless of their skin color, identity and religion.”
Mohamed claimed that she is aware that she is taking on her duty in the midst of a nationwide wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic hostility. Mohamed stated in the days following the Hamas attack on Israel that her top goal was to protect the safety of both Jewish and Muslim residents.
“One of my first calls was to the police department to make sure that our synagogues are safe and protected and that we take the necessary security procedures,” she said.
Since the fighting between Israel and Hamas escalated a month ago, Mohamed said she has continued to meet with local Muslim and Jewish leaders in St. Louis Park.
Representative Ilhan Omar, the first woman of color elected to Congress and the first Somali American, congratulated Mohamed’s victory on social media.
“These milestones we are breaking as Somali Americans isn’t accidental, it’s hard work and believe in ourselves,” Omar wrote. “I am glad to have paved the way and can’t wait to see what more milestones we will cross as a community.”
Mohamed will be inaugurated in January. She added that she will continue to focus on the housing and public safety projects of the municipal council until then.
The 27-year-old appointee expressed her joy at having her photograph hung on the walls of community Hall in St. Louis Park alongside photos of mayors who had led the Minnesota community for almost 100 years.
“And now my picture gets to go up there. Fifty years from now, there’s going to be the next generation who will see my photo there,” she expressed.
“Representation absolutely matters because it shows people that things can happen, and they can see themselves reflected in their story books and their policies. We’re front and center and we’re going to be visible in our identities. This is a big milestone, but it’s not the destination,” she said.
Another Somali American served as mayor of a city in the United States two years ago. Deqa Dhalac was elected mayor of Portland, Maine, however she was appointed by the city council rather than elected.
The increasing number of Somali-American women in US politics, according to Ghida Dagher, president of New American Leaders, heralds a new age. Dagher stated that Mohamed has been a dedicated public worker and expressed her optimism that the newly elected mayor will breathe new life and voice into the city government, which “may not always have represented its people.”