May 30, 2018

‘I’ll be doing things differently’: What does it take to run a city?

The Stream speaks to elected officials from minority backgrounds.

Magid Magid came to the UK as a refugee from Somalia, unable to speak English. Twenty-three-years later, he’s now the youngest person ever to be the northern city of Sheffield’s Lord Mayor. Magid is just one of many people from minority and immigrant backgrounds aspiring to use elected office to tackle classism and xenophobia in their communities.

“If me doing this – as a black, Muslim immigrant – can spark someone to go out and change their bit of the world, that’s my job done”, said Magid. “I want to live in a society where, no matter what your background is, you have the opportunity to be the head of state and it’s not only open to a privileged few people.”

Like Magid, Preet Didbal also hopes to level the playing field for people in her community, especially women. The daughter of parents who emigrated from India to northern California in 1968, Didbal made headlines worldwide in December when she became the first Sikh woman in US history to head a city government.

“I hope it sends a huge message to our young women, our young girls – go reach for the stars”, said Didbal during her swearing-in ceremony. “You have an equal seat at the table with the men, and you can make very big, positive impacts in your community.”

In this episode, The Stream chats with elected officials, including Magid Magid and Preet Didbal, to discuss the challenges they encountered en route to office, and how they’re working to improve the communities they serve and represent. 

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Magid Magid @magicmagid
Lord Mayor of Sheffield, United Kingdom               

Preet Didbal
Mayor of Yuba City, California   

Jimmy Matta   
Mayor of Burien, Washington State     

Read more:
Magid Magid, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, on kicking out the Queen - The Times
He’s a former refugee. He’s black. And now he’s mayor of Helena, Montana. - Think Progress
Meet the nation's first known Sikh woman to serve as a city mayor - LA Times

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