When you picture a political figure in the Whitest state in America, an image of a hijab-wearing Muslim Somali woman doesn’t exactly come to mind.
But that’s probably because you’ve never met the Deqa Dhalac’s of the world.
The 53-year-old mother of three is now the mayor of a city that’s 90% White.
Dhalac was elected in a unanimous vote by South Portland city councilors who spoke of her commitment to the community.
Mayor Dhalac fled her home in Somalia back in 1990 due to fears of a civil war.
After seeking refuge in the U.S., she began the groundwork in helping other immigrants become citizens in order for them to be allowed to vote.
Dhalac explained that she, and others like her, felt as though they were “missing out at the decision-making tables.”
However, it was former president Donald Trump taking office that lit a fire under her, she told CNN in an exclusive interview.
Her first win
Dhalac’s first win came in 2018 when she ran for City Council in South Portland, Maine.
Since then, she has been breaking glass ceilings and being a voice for those like her and her community as a whole.
“I’m…really proud of the fact that I’m going to be opening a lot of paths for other folks who look like me, especially our young community members, to say, ‘If this woman can do this, actually I can do that,'” Dhalac said at City Council in November after her nomination.
She officially became the first Black mayor of the city on the Southern Coast of the state.
What’s more, she is said to also be the first Somali American mayor in U.S. history.
“People will always have some kind of reservation…but will get to know you, listen to you and see who you are through that,” she said.
Dhalac says that her big win can be seen as a way for immigrants, first-generation folks, Black people, young people, and even White individuals, to play a bigger role in their civic duties and to “step up” for it now.
The trailblazing mayor isn’t the only Somali woman making history in the U.S., Ilhan Omar is a Somali American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Minnesota since 2019.
She is also the first of her kind.
Omar has dealt with lots of media scrutiny over the years and has been very candid about the death threats she receives on a daily basis.
And much like Dhalac, Omar has also been vocal about how she feels about Trump, who has spoken negatively about her many times in the past.
In 2020, Trump mocked Omar claiming she was telling others how to run America.
“How about Omar of Minnesota?” he said during a rally in Pennsylvania. “She’s telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from? How’s your country doing? She’s going to tell us — she’s telling us how to run our country,”
It is safe to say that the journey ahead will be a long one for Mayor Dhalac, but many will tell you that she was born for it.