11/12/2019
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Somali who was target of threats wins US municipal election


By DAVID SHARP
Thursday November 7, 2019


Safiya Khalid speaks at a candidates forum at Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine.


PORTLAND, Maine — The second-largest city in Maine, home to thousands of African newcomers, has elected a Somali American to its city council following a campaign that was marred by racist attacks and threats fueled by social media.

Safiya Khalid, 23, soundly defeated a fellow Democrat on Tuesday for a seat on the Lewiston City Council.

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Shrugging off attacks on her skin color and faith, Khalid declared that "community organizers beat internet trolls."

The attacks didn't seem to faze voters. Khalid won with nearly 70% of the vote to make history in the former mill city.

"I worked really hard. I knocked on thousands of doors. That's what paid off," Khalid told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.

Maine is the nation's whitest state, but it is home to a growing population of Africans who have fled their homeland.

First- and second-generation candidates from four African countries — Somalia, Congo, Ghana and Nigeria — won seats on city councils and school committees across the state, continuing an established trend, said Mufalo Chitam, executive director of the Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition.



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