Tall of stature, solemn of face, gray of hair… That is the usual stereotype for a City Councilman. But 20 year old BC student Abshir Mahamed is defeating the stereotype by being the youngest man in the state of Washington to run for a political office.
Mahamed has been attending BC since 2009. He is currently getting his Bahelor’s degree in radiology and planning to go to University of Washington for med-school.
Mahamed is actively involved in Student Programs – he is the Chief Justice with the Associated Student Government, as well as being an involved member of the Black Student Union. Last year he was the Associate Justice of External Affairs; his job was to communicate with all the clubs on campus.
Though he isn’t studying political science, he decided to run for Councilman in February, because of the amount of crime he witnessed on the streets in front of his business, a store called Camel Foods. He said that he sees “Prostitutes, gang members, and people selling drugs outside my store. The city is not adequately funding public safety.”
Mahamed doesn’t blame the police department for these activities – in face, he pities them. He said that after the police resource center was closed by the city, “Crime skyrocketed. Drugs increased, shootings increased… shootings in front of my store.”
He also doesn’t feel that the current City Council is doing a good enough job. “They weren’t doing all they could, they were being irresponsible. They’re shutting down casinos, when the taxes goes straight to the police and fire department. That’s over 400+ people laid off with no way to support their family, and lots of revenue lost for police.”
Being only 20 years old, Mahamed lacks the experience in political campaigning possessed by his opponent.
“I did the paperwork in March and after that I was reading books, books, books. I got endorsed by the democratic party and by democratic Councilmen… it gives a little more credibility.” He goes door-to-door, explaining his ideas and introducing himself.
“I’m running a non-traditional campaign,” he said. “Asking myself, ‘how can I use technology to my advantage?’ All my campaigning has been digital, it’s all online.”
The competition is affecting him in his school work: “I can’t take a full course load, because if I do that, work at ASG, run a campaign… That’s just physically impossible!” So Mahamed is taking one class, but he still feels that he is learning so much.
“My public speaking has improved quite well, and win or lose, it’s been a great experience,” said Mahamed.
His opponent in this election is incumbent Dennis Robertson, 67, who has been serving on and off since 1990. Robertson and Mahamed agree that the main issue in Tukwila is public safety.
Although he grew up in Renton, Mahamed is originally from Somalia Republic. He was born there when the country was engaged in civil war, and his father was killed in the war when Mahamed was very young. After this, his family relocated to the Republic of Kenya and soon after was sponsored by an aunt from San Diego to immigrate to the United States. Since then, Mahamed has lived in Washingon, originally in Renton and later in Tukwila.
Although he is only 20 years old, Abshir Mahamed is running for the Tukwila City Council against five-term incumbent Dennis Robertson. No polls are out that would indicate who is the frontrunner, but ballots for this election are due by Nov. 8, so the results will be in before long. Look for the results in forthcoming issues of The Jibsheet.