Warsame in 2015
|Member of the Minneapolis City Council from the 6th Ward|
|Assumed office |
January 2, 2014
|Preceded by||Robert Lilligren|
|Constituency||Ward 6 of Minneapolis|
|Born||March 5, 1978|
|Political party||Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party|
|Residence||Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Alma mater||Middlesex University|
University of Greenwich
Abdi Warsame (Somali: Cabdi Warsame, Arabic: عبدي وارسام) (born 1978) is a Somali-American politician and member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After moving to London as an asylum seeker, he immigrated to Minnesota in 2006. In November 2013, he was elected to the Minneapolis City Council, becoming the first Somali official to be elected to the position. Warsame was reelected for a second term in 2017.
Early life and education
Warsame was the founder and spokesperson for the Citizen's Committee for Fair Redistricting, which took part in the Minneapolis redistricting process. The group lobbied the Minneapolis Charter Commission to redraw the municipality's political districts so as to maximize the East African community's vote. The commission concurred and established a number of new precincts in Ward 6.
Warsame chaired the Cedar Riverside-Neighborhood Revitalization Program and served as Executive Director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association, which represents the tenants of Riverside Plaza.
Minneapolis City Council
Somali-American professionals contributed significantly to Warsame's election campaign. His campaign finance filings put him among the top tier of successful fundraisers in Minneapolis' 13 wards. Lawyer and political operative Brian Rice was Warsame's strategist for the campaign.
Warsame's campaign was criticized by DFLer Robert Lilligren's caucus captain Maryam Marne Zafar, who alleged that Warsame supporters tried to turn voters away from Lilligren by highlighting the fact that Lilligren was openly gay. Lilligren also charged that Warsame supporters had capitalized on language barriers to win votes. Warsame dismissed the claims as sour grapes stemming from a lack of support for Lilligren's campaign, and added that he specifically told members of his political team not to use Lilligren's sexual orientation as a talking point. A DFL committee also rejected the Lilligren team's allegations.
Just before the election, the political action committee of Palestinian real estate developer Basim Sabri, who had a personal feud with Lilligren, produced controversial fliers smearing Lilligren and asserting that he discriminated against minorities, the elderly, and the poor. The fliers urged voters instead to cast their ballots for Warsame. Warsame's campaign team emailed a statement denouncing the Sabri committee's pamphlets and their use of Warsame's name. It also indicated that Sabri and his action group were unaffiliated with the Vote Warsame For Ward 6 campaign and were instead acting out of their own volition.
On November 5, 2013, Warsame was elected to represent the predominantly East-African Ward 6 on the Minneapolis City Council. He was the first-choice preference of 64% of voters, and received 40% of second-choice votes, and 20% of third-choice votes. The incumbent, Robert Lilligren, received 32% of first-choice votes, almost 27% of second-choice votes, and 13% of third-choice votes. The victory makes Warsame the first Somali American to hold the position. Warsame and Ahmed M. Hassan, who was elected to the Clarkston, Georgia City Council on the same day, are the first Somali Americans to be elected to municipal offices in the United States and the highest elected Somali Americans in the country. Warsame's election set civic precedence in the Somali American community of Minneapolis, in which his campaign energized and mobilized this sub-community's powerful voting bloc.
Political stature and causes
The Star Tribune, Minnesota's largest newspaper, noted Warsame's stature by stating "there is the work of being one of the most prominent Somali-Americans in the country, at a time when the Somali community is making inroads in politics, business and education — but also pushing back against a wave of news about young Somalis trying to link up with terrorist groups overseas. In between council meetings and city business, Warsame’s calendar is filled with visits from East African dignitaries, trips to other Somali communities in the United States and casual conversations with people who need help with problems large and small."
In addition, Warsame has been at the forefront of fighting against violent extremist ideology which dismally affects the Somali-American community. Politico interviewed the Council member and it stated that "Abdi Warsame might be the only city council member in the nation who lies awake at night thinking about how to fight ISIL."
Warsame is married and has four children who were all born in Minneapolis. He is a resident of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, which is home to the largest concentration of Somalis outside of East Africa.
|Minneapolis City Council Ward 6 election, 2013|
|Political party/principle||Candidate||% 1st Choice||Round 1|
|DFL||Mahamed A Cali||0.52||25|
- Williams, Brandt (November 5, 2013). "Warsame wins seat on Minneapolis City Council". MPR News. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Grove, Ben (November 6, 2013). "3 Minneapolis Council incumbents ousted; 1st Somali elected". BringeMeTheNews. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- Mohamed, Mohamed (May 19, 2013). "Meet Abdi". The Abdi Warsame Volunteer Committee. Archived from the original on March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Gilbert, Curtis (May 22, 2013). "Abdi Warsame, contender for City Council, out to change perspectives". MPR News. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- "About Abdi Warsame". City of Minneapolis. December 23, 2013. Archived from the original on May 10, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Gitaa, Tom (September 12, 2013). "Somali professionals propel Warsame to top tier of money getters in race for Minneapolis City Council". Mshale.
- Staff (November 5, 2013). "Abdi Warsame becomes first African-born Minneapolis City Council member". Mshale. Archived from the original on September 5, 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Rao, Maya (September 30, 2013). "Brian Rice: Behind the scenes in Minneapolis politics, but widespread influence". Star Tribune.
- Rao, Maya (April 26, 2013). "Political hardball alleged in Minneapolis council race". Star Tribune.
- Rupar, Aaron (November 6, 2013). "Basim Sabri, man behind pro-Abdi Warsame fliers, says he prefers Hitler to Lilligren". City Pages. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013.
- Marx, Jesse (November 5, 2013). "Abdi Warsame supporters distribute late-hour campaign smear". City Pages. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013.
- Rao, Maya (November 17, 2013). "Warsame to bring rising Somali clout to Minneapolis City Hall". Star Tribune.
- Rao, Maya (November 17, 2013). "Warsame to bring rising Somali clout to Minneapolis City Hall". Star Tribune. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Golden, Erin (May 30, 2015). "For Minneapolis Council Member Abdi Warsame, recruitment fight starts small". Star Tribune. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Hirsi, Ibrahim (August 20, 2015). "Fighting ISIL From City Hall". Politico. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- "2013 Minneapolis Election Results: City Council Ward 6". City of Minneapolis. Retrieved November 5, 2013.