Nida Allam made history on Tuesday night when she became the first Muslim American woman to be elected to office in North Carolina, her campaign says.
Allam, who ran as a Democrat, was one of five women to win the party’s primary for the Durham County Board of Commissioners’ five seats, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. She finished fourth with 39,523 votes.
Since there are no Republican candidates running in the general election, Allam and the four other candidates will presumptively take office in November.
“People of Durham you made history last night by electing me as the FIRST Muslim Woman to serve the state of North Carolina,” Allam tweeted Wednesday morning. “I can’t even express how grateful I am to have earned your trust and support.”
The campaign told CNN that officials looked back at previous North Carolina election data, county by county, and found no previous Muslim American women who had won elections to hold office in the state.
“That’s when you realize – this hasn’t been done,” Allam told CNN.
Muslim advocacy groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Muslim Advocates, celebrated the win.
“She succeeded where others weren’t able to break through that glass ceiling,” Robert McCaw, the council’s Government Affairs Department director, told CNN.
Allam’s campaign priorities include a $15 minimum wage for county workers, boosting mental health services in schools and investing in businesses run by women and people of color, according to her website.
“Marginalized communities don’t have a voice at the table,” Allam told CNN. “I’m not just running to be their voice – I’m running to create a space for them.”
Allam’s campaign website describes her friendship with Yusor Abu-Salha, Abu-Salha’s husband, Deah Barakat, and her sister Razan Abu-Salha – three Muslim college students who were murdered in Chapel Hill in 2015. A North Carolina man has since pleaded guilty to the killings.
“I reflected and asked myself how can I be content with all the blessings I have been given in this world when there is so much to do to fight injustice, uplift each other, and to make our communities better for future generations,” Allam’s website reads. “I’m fighting for a better Durham so that others don’t have to suffer the pain my community did.”
Allam was a political director for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign for the White House. She was elected third vice chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party in 2017 and was appointed to the Durham Mayor’s Council for Women in 2018.