Minnesota Elects Ilhan as First Somali-American Female Legislator

Ilhan Omar, a candidate for State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, gives an acceptance speech on election night, November 8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar, a refugee from Somalia, is the first Somali-American Muslim woman to hold public office. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)

Ilhan: “For me, this is my country, this is for my future, for my children’s future and for my grandchildren’s future”

Although the U.S. did not elect its first female president Tuesday night, one woman still made history.

Former refugee Ilhan Omar, who proudly wears the hijab, became America’s first Somali-American Muslim woman legislator after she claimed a strong victory in the Minnesota House race.

The 34-year-old moved to the U.S. at the age of 12, after four years living in a Kenyan refugee camp following her escape from the Somali civil war, the Star Tribune reports. As well as her political duties, she is director of policy at Women Organizing Women Network—a group that aims to empower all women, particularly first and second generation immigrants, to become engaged citizens and community leaders.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen told the Tribune that Omar’s victory “says something important about the future of Minnesota, and what it means to be a Minnesotan.”

By  @katesamuelson




__________________________________________ Ilhan Reacts

Ilhan Omar elected as State Representative in District 60B

November 8, 2016

Akhilesh Menawat

NOVEMBER 8, 2016 MINNEAPOLIS – Ilhan Omar has been declared the winner in the race for State Representative in District 60B.

“Tonight is the culmination of more than a year of hard work. I am so proud of this win because District 60B represents Minnesota at its finest. My neighbors, and everyone here in this room, represent what we as a nation want to be: united in our diversity,” said Ilhan. “Long time residents, East African immigrants and students — we came together and engaged in the political progress. We talked about the issues that concern us and we connected on the future we want to create.”

She went on to say, ‘Tonight, we are celebrating this win, our win. But our work won’t stop. We will continue to build a more prosperous and equitable district — state, and nation — where each and every one of us has opportunities to thrive and move forward together. “

Even though Ilhan Omar won the primary in August, and her GOP opponent suspended his campaign, she and her campaign team have traveled the state in the past two months and continued working to get out the vote for other DFL candidates.

“It has been my pleasure getting to know Ilhan in the past few months,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “Her energy and passion for politics is an inspiration to me and so many others. We are so fortunate to have her as a new leader in the DFL.”

Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, one of the first elected officials to support Ilhan remarked, “So many people tried to divide us during this election, but Ilhan worked tirelessly to bring us together. Having another woman of color representing us is so important and I welcome her to the Capitol with open arms.”

Along with Sen. Torres Ray, Sen. Scott Dibble stepped up to endorse Ilhan early on, “Her demonstrated leadership skills and ability to jump in and get things done are great assets. I know she will commit herself to working for equity by closing the opportunity gap and eliminating racial disparities.”

Rep. Erin Murphy, who has also been turning out the vote with Ilhan, had this to say: “Ilhan will bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to the Capitol. I can’t wait to work with her as a colleague in the legislature and advance the issues we care about. She represents the next generation of leadership for Minnesota.”

Aisha Chughtai, a University of Minnesota freshman and a first-time voter, is excited that her new representative “truly cares about co-governance and building coalitions. Ilhan is so in tune with the challenges students face.  And, as a new voice at the table, she will be instrumental in redefining progressivism in Minnesota.”

Abdulle Jisow, a community elder, said: “I never imagined this day. While living in Somali, we dreamt about the opportunity to be involved in representative democracy. And today as an American citizen, I see that dream a reality. It was an honor for me to cast my ballot for the very first Somali-American, Muslim woman lawmaker. I am so proud to have her as our new representative. Today is a great day.”

“Ilhan’s was a bright spot in this election cycle. Her win is ‘off the charts’ thrilling,” said Patricia Mack who has lived in the Seward neighborhood for 40 years. “She represents a new generation of leadership and will represent ALL of us, whether we are immigrants, the descendants of immigrants or Native Americans.”

In the past year, more than 400 volunteers from Ilhan’s campaign connected with more than 100,000 voters by knocking on doors and making phone calls. In addition, 900 donors supported Ilhan’s campaign with donations from $1 up to $1,000.

As State Representative for District 60B, Ilhan will dedicate herself to closing the opportunity gap and advancing an agenda focused on economic, social, racial, and environmental justice.

Ilhan Omar is the newly elected, Minnesota House Representative for District 60B. She is the first Somali-American, Muslim woman in the nation to hold an office at this level. She is an experienced policy analyst, progressive DFL activist, coalition builder and community educator. Most recently, she served as the Director of Policy Initiatives at Women Organizing Women, where she empowered East African woman to take civic leadership roles in their community. Ilhan lives in the West Bank neighborhood of Minneapolis with her husband and their three children.

 For more information, visit: ilhanomar.com


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