When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, November 5 in Portland, Bangor, Lewiston, Westbrook, and Hampden, the ballot they are handed will represent the diversifying face of Maine. Nine first and second-generation Mainers, with family origins in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Afghanistan, Ghana, Nigeria, South Korea, are running for a variety of offices, including school board representative, and city councilor. This is the first election in Maine’s history with so many first and second-generation Mainers on the ballot.
Claude Rwaganje and McDonald Johnson are vying for the at-large seat on the Westbrook City Council. Rwaganje is originally from Democratic Republic of Congo, and Johnson from Liberia.
Incumbent Pious Ali is running unopposed for re-election to Portland City Council. A trailblazer, in 2013 Councilor Ali was Maine’s first African-born Muslim to hold public office in Maine – he was elected to Portland School Board in 2013 and the City Council in 2016.
Tae Chong and Layla Kargar are both running for the District 3 City Council seat in Portland. Mr. Chong was born in South Korea and Ms. Kargar, whose parents are originally from Aghanistan, was born in Iran.
Safiya Khalid is running for Lewiston City Council Ward 1. She is originally from Somalia.
Angela Okafor, originally from Nigeria, is running for City Council in Bangor. Marwa Hassanien, also of Bangor, and whose parents were born in Egypt, is running for Bangor School Committee.
Tania Jean-Jacques is running for RSU 22 School Board. She is originally from Haiti.
For more background on these candidates, and others: