Wednesday January 9, 2019
BARRON, Wis. (WEAU) -- For the first time ever the city of Barron has two Somali candidates running for an open city council seat.
There are three candidates looking to fill the open council seat, two of which are Somali, and candidate Isaak Mohamed said they could make history.
“In Wisconsin I will be one of the first to run for city council and hoping I will win for this position,” said Mohamed.
Mohamed says while he hopes to represent the community of Barron as a whole it would be an honor to also be a voice for the Somali population.
“We need to be heard,” he said. “I'm a U.S. citizen in the United States. I came to this country as a refugee. I was helped by the community of Barron; I was helped by the U.S. government. I want to give back to the U.S. government, I want to show them who I am by doing good things for the city of Barron and also the community of Barron.”
Candidate Faisal Ahmed says he's running for office to show his children that refugees like himself can do better for themselves by serving their community.
“It means to me a lot,” said Ahmed. “If I can at least give back something to the community that welcomed me and my family so it's very good for me if I get any chance that I can to do anything better for the community.”
The city says to its knowledge there's never been a Somali city council member in Barron and city administrator Bob Kazmierski said potentially having another ethnicity in local government is overdue.
“Because of the large frequency of minority groups in the community it just makes sense that there's representation from different ethnic groups with a public body such as a common council,” said Kazmierski.
The city also says it will be the only one in Barron County to hold a special election in February to narrow down the city council candidates from three to two ahead of the April 2nd election.
“It's a challenge to get people engaged with local government so I think we're fortunate we have three candidates that are willing and able to run,” added Kazmierski.
The third candidate Paul Solie declined to speak on-camera but says he's thrilled there are Somali candidates to represent the community and looks forward to working together no matter what the outcome of the election.