LEWISTON — The first Somali-American to be elected to the City Council will not seek a second term.

Safiya Khalid became the first Somali-American to be elected to the Lewiston City Council in 2019. She will not seek a second term. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Instead, Safiya Khalid said she intends to help others in Lewiston get elected to local and state office.

Khalid, who received national news coverage and accolades from political heavyweights when she was elected in 2019, announced her decision in a social media post Wednesday night.

In the lengthy post, she said she intends to, “throw myself into the work of electing anti-racist candidates to local and state office in our city,” adding, “in order to fully devote myself to this work, I’ve decided against running for a second term on the Lewiston City Council.”

She also used the post to talk about her experience as an elected official in Lewiston, and her hopes for working to create a “more inclusive” city.

Khalid referred to death threats she received during her 2019 campaign, and to a recent Lewiston Democratic Committee meeting, where she ended up withdrawing her candidacy for chairwoman after the meeting turned confrontational.

In Wednesday’s post, she said people of color are, “consistently met with hatred when we try to engage in the political process” in Lewiston.

“This would be awful anywhere, but it is especially evil in a city where 40% of public school students are students of color,” she said. “The future of Lewiston is diverse, but its institutions are hostile to our interests and our aspirations.”

Khalid was 23 when she was elected in 2019, which also made her among the youngest to ever be elected in Lewiston. Her victory was covered by CNN, the Washington Post and other major media outlets, and received the attention of politicians, including Hillary Clinton, Julian Castro, Ilhan Omar and Bernie Sanders.

“My election to the council in 2019 was historic, and always will be,” Khalid said in the post. “I am incredibly proud to be Lewiston’s first Somali-American city councilor, but I will not be the last. Doing this job over the past two years has been rewarding and exhausting, inspiring and emotionally draining. As the only Black city councilor, I have frequently been a voice alone in discussions about racial justice and institutional racism. There have been nights where I left council meetings depressed and crying, and it has taken a serious toll on my mental health. I’m glad I ran and served, and I plan to run for office again in the future, but for now, I want to focus my efforts on building the support system I wish I’d had these last few years.”

Khalid did not respond to calls from the Sun Journal on Thursday.

With roughly a month before nomination papers are due for the upcoming November election, two people have pulled papers for Khalid’s Ward 1 seat: former School Committee member Linda Scott, and former equity and diversity committee member Dane Morgan.

Khalid is among several Lewiston incumbents on both the City Council and School Committee not seeking reelection. On the City Council, only two councilors — Lee Clement and Stephanie Gelinas — have pulled papers. Clement is also toying with a run for mayor after Mayor Mark Cayer said he would not seek a second term.

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