Strives to give back to the city that welcomed her years ago
Nadia Mohamed is no stranger to making history. Elected in 2019 to St. Louis Park’s city council, Mohamed became the suburb’s first Somali and Muslim council member.
Four years later, she made her mark again when she was elected mayor, becoming the city’s first Muslim, first Black, and first Somali mayor. Mohamed is also the country’s first elected Somali mayor in a municipal race.
Mohamed, 26, received 58 percent of the votes, clinching the victory over Dale Anderson, a retired banker and university instructor, who received 41 percent. Anderson ran on a platform that the city needed “the wisdom of a senior citizen.” However, the majority of voters disagreed and opted to elect the city’s youngest mayor in its 170-year history.
Mohamed sat down for a one-on-one interview in the council chambers following the election. She discussed her reaction to the support she has received, how her time on the council would inform her work as mayor, and what her priorities would be once she’s sworn into office.
“I definitely did not expect it, but it was a welcomed surprise,” Mohamed, beaming, said of her success. “I’m really grateful for every person who went out and voted. I’m grateful to the residents for supporting me in this.”
Mohamed was raised in St. Louis Park from the age of 10, when her parents came to the suburb as refugees from Somalia. After graduating from high school, Mohamed became involved in public life, joining the city’s Cultural Advisory Committee where she served for four years to help bridge the gap between the city and its cultural communities. She also volunteered at the high school, hosted community iftars, and taught community education classes.
Her career also took her to the Minnesota Department of Human Services where she served as a diversity, equity and inclusion specialist. Mohamed’s work for the public was recognized in 2019, when she won St. Louis Park’s Human Rights Award.
She credits her success to the city and its services, which helped her family. When Mohamed’s family arrived in the city, they didn’t have much—like many refugee and immigrant communities.
“The city, in collaboration with nonprofits, was able to provide us with public housing, back-to-school supplies, and clothes for the winter,” she said. “All of those things are things that I’ve benefited from in the city and that contribute to a big part of the relationships that I maintain and the people who were part of my journey.”
Over the years Mohamed has gained support after having given back to the community that gave so much to her and her family. She was endorsed by the current mayor, Jake Spano, and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, who lives in St. Louis Park.
Mohamed also mentioned the moral support she received from her longtime friend, State Senator Zaynab Mohamed. Their friendship goes back all the way to middle school, and both have made political waves in recent years.
“I’ve known her outside of the political world and was super excited when she ended up winning her election as well,” the new mayor stated.
Mohamed said that she would be taking her experience on the council into her role as mayor.
“I’ve been on the council for the past four years. And it’s been a hard four years,” she said. “I intend to take all of that I have learned, and all of the decisions that we’ve made here, and continue on that success as mayor.”
Having served on the council through the pandemic and the civil uprising that followed the police killing of George Floyd, Mohamed has seen the community go through its challenges. However, she stated that through a collaborative effort all the city’s goals can be achieved.
The city-government model in St. Louis Park is a weak-mayor system, which makes Mohamed’s duties similar to a council member’s. According to Mohamed, she’s charged with presiding over meetings and keeping track of the agenda. The mayor can also propose and vote on ordinances and partake in ceremonial events.
Once sworn in as mayor, Mohamed’s leading priority is to help constituents in St. Louis Park find pathways to homeownership. She shared her own difficulty with being able to purchase a home in the city. It reflects the experience of many residents, she stated. She plans to look into different programs that may provide people with administrative grants or look into zoning ordinances.
“The ability to buy a home is the American Dream,” she said. “Every time I’ve been out door-knocking, I’ve heard from both renters and homeowners alike that the city is getting too expensive.”
Reflecting on the impact of her election, Mohamed believes that although representation matters, this is the beginning of the journey. She hopes to find more ways to give back to the community and meet the needs of her constituents, while continuing to make change.
“Our identities are powerful. But often what happens is the story ends with our identity,” she said. “There are all these things that I want to accomplish. And the journey has not yet begun. The book is not closed. All is not solved.”