After an election night that featured numerous notable electoral victories by diverse candidates, including trans women Andrea Jenkins in Minnesota and Danica Roem in Virginia, the results of one local city council race are also turning heads across the country.
In Iowa City, Mazahir Salih, a hijabi Muslim immigrant from Sudan, became the first Muslim woman and immigrant to serve on the Iowa City Council, according to the Daily Iowan.
Salih, who studied civil engineering at Sudan University of Science and Technology and worked as a community organizer at the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, according to her Facebook page, won 43.8% of votes, the Iowa City Gazette reported. Two candidates were elected to the City Council at-large.
The results of her victory were celebrated across the nation, and even caught the attention of Brooklyn-based activist Linda Sarsour:
We did it! Thank you Iowa City. 💙 pic.twitter.com/CuJi0aukEi— Mazahir Salih 💙 (@MazahirIowaCity) November 8, 2017
Mazahir Salih has won a seat on the City Council in Iowa City!— Mazahir Salih 💙 (@MazahirIowaCity) November 8, 2017
Congratulations to Sudanese-American Mazahir Salih on winning a seat on the Iowa City Council! Mazahir is the first Muslim woman and immigrant to serve on the council. pic.twitter.com/zIdPCLYHNp— Women's March (@womensmarch) November 8, 2017
Sudanese immigrant Mazahir Salih wins seat on Iowa City Council. She announced her candidacy for on same day Trump announced Muslim Ban 2.0, https://t.co/b9jOQJizBl— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) November 8, 2017
Kudos to Mazahir Salih last night! Iowa City will have its first Muslim woman and immigrant on the City Council. https://t.co/qrNNVyPajR— Austin Frerick (@AustinFrerick) November 8, 2017
Salih ran on a platform of “expanding affordable housing, improving local transportation, and promoting quality jobs,” she said in an interview with the Gazette.
Throughout her campaign, she said in that interview, she hoped to “bring together low-wage and immigrant residents who are typically disconnected from policy discussions to discuss their concerns and ideas.”
Her campaign, launched on the same day US President Donald Trump passed the “Travel Ban 2.0” barring refugees from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Syria, raised more than $14,000 — twice her initial goal, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
“I also received donations as low as $5, which makes me happy,” she said at the time. “I think it shows different kinds of people and different levels of income are supporting me.”
According to the most recent census, about 2% of African immigrants in the United States were of Sudanese descent in 2011 — with about 44,000 living in the US. Global Citizen advocates for refugees, immigrants, and displaced persons around the world. You can take action here.
“I’ve been campaigning hard, trying to win,” Salih said in a speech posted on Twitter after the election, “but I never pictured this moment.”