Tukwila Could See Its Youngest Elected Official In Candidate Mohamed Abdi

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If all goes according to the plans he’s had since a child, 24-year-old Tukwila City Council candidate Mohamed Abdi could become the youngest elected Somali official in the state should he win the Tukwila City Council’s Position 5 in the Nov. 2 election.

Abdi and his family immigrated from Nairobi, Kenya, to Washington state when he was an infant after his family fled Somalia due to the country’s civil war.

Abdi was raised in Tukwila and went to Foster High School, where he became heavily involved in the community. Whether as captain of the high school’s varsity basketball team or as a political activist, Abdi said he “always gravitated towards bettering people.”

Abdi went to Seattle Central College and eventually transferred to the University of Washington, Seattle. He graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s in American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Diversity. After graduation Abdi, like many other college graduates, wondered what his next steps would be. “I asked myself ‘What will my story be one day?’”

Abdi recalled how former Tukwila City Council member Joe Duffie would visit the elementary, middle and high schools.

“I’ve always had a dream of running for city council since I was a kid,” Abdi said. “I remember walking up to him as a kid and said, ‘You know, I would like to be in a council position one day.’”

Currently, three of the seven council positions are held by people of color, Cynthia Delostrinos Johnson in Position 4, Zak Idan in Position 5 and De’Sean Quinn in Position 7. Idan’s seat is one of four seats up for election this year. In 2017, Idan was the first Somali representative to be voted to Tukwila’s City Council. Prior to Idan’s rise to City Council, Position 5 was held by the first African American representative on Tukwila City Council, Joe Duffie. Duffie held a City Council position for 36 years.

Delostrinos Johnson said continuity in that position is important. Of the current City Council members, Delostrinos Johnson has already publicly endorsed Abdi and has participated in his campaign.

“It was important to me that they see him because I think that he really cares about empowering people who have not seen people who look like him in these positions,” says Delostrinos Johnson.

Delostrinos Johnson explained that the City Council will be entering a budget year. “I think moving forward is passing a budget that’s reflective of the needs of our diverse community and not just this is the way we’ve done it before.”

She spoke about the health, economic and racial disparities the community experienced specifically during the pandemic. “How are we as a council going to respond to that in a way that really centers the needs for the community, and those most impacted by racism, the pandemic and the economy?”

“I am most excited about his perspective as a person who was raised here,” Delostrinos Johnson said. “He went through the Tukwila School District; he was empowered through the Teens for Tukwila program that works with students from Foster High School to bring them in to help them see a glimpse of the government. He is a direct product of that.”

Campaign manager Dale Porter joined Abdi’s team at the beginning of the general elections.

“I really enjoy his insight, his vision, and the fact that he’s such a well-rounded candidate for being so young,” Porter said. “I’m really excited about going to work with him and talking to him every day because he’s so passionate about what he’s doing–it’s a breath of fresh air.”

Porter focused on how Abdi could affect the City Council.

“Having a new pair of eyes on to bring new solutions, and from that he’s a representative of the Somali community and the immigrant community,” Porter said. “He can bring those life stories to the City Council to bring the uplift to those voices.”

According to state House Rep. Jesse Johnson, who represents the 30th District, “It’s really important to vote and get involved early.” Johnson added, “these are the people that represent and make major decisions for your life.”

Johnson was voted on to Federal Way’s City Council in 2017 at the age of 27, which made Johnson the youngest person of color ever to serve on that City Council.

“I think for young people to understand that and to play a part in those decisions is very important,” says Johnson.

Abdi is keeping his hopes up regarding the results of the Nov. 2 elections.

“Win or lose, we need our people to stay engaged because they could also run down the lines as well,” Abdi said. “It’s more than just me, and I realized that’s what this campaign is about; I’m putting myself out there, but this is not about me. This is about us.”

Read More: Somali Excellence; Nine Somali candidates vying for seats in Minnesota

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