Meet Mazahir Salih, the First Sudanese Woman Elected to Public Office in Iowa

Nov 20, 2017

Mazahir Salih, an immigrant from Sudan and resident of Iowa City is thought to be the first Sudanese-American elected to government in the United States. Earlier this month, she was elected to the Iowa City city council. She's a full-time community organizer and founder of the Center for Worker Justice in Iowa City, and during this River to River interview, she talks with host Ben Kieffer. 

During her campaign, she focused on issues of affordable housing, expanding public transportation, and representing low-income workers. She says that some policy makers are disconnected from that communities' struggles. 

"Many times people say 'hey, we need a low wage worker to come be a part of the conversation,'" she explains. "Well, the minimum wage is $7.25, and those people have two jobs in order to pay their bills. A lot of people don't have any means of transportation to go to a city council meeting or a school board meeting because they are after hours, and public transportation stops early." 

Salih also talks with Kieffer about how her campaign has become a focus of Sudanese media attention and what it's been like to campaign as an immigrant in a country where immigration is a highly controversial issue.