Sudanese refugee, Chol Majok, has made history as the first former refugee to win a Common Council seat in the U.S.
Majok, who ran for the seat under the Democrats won the 3rd District Common Council seat in Syracuse, New York and will represent six of the city’s southernmost neighborhoods.
His victory comes off the back of some other two Somali-American refugees, Safiya Khalid and Nadia Mohamed who won the city council seats in Lewiston, Maine and in St Louis Park, Minnesota.
“One of the things that I am certain about is when you are not at the table where policy and decisions are being made, you are not counted, you are not part of that narrative,” said Majok.
The 34-year-old father of five arrived in Syracuse 18 years ago in the midst of 20, 000 displaced or orphaned children during the second Sudanese civil war.
His mother died when he was two years old while his father fought and died in the war for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
Due to lack of stability on his arrival in the U.S., he lived in foster homes until he turned 18 years old. This moment, he revealed, was a turning point in his life.
“They are conditions that people in a first world country should not be in. So coupled with where I came from and what I saw, I just wanted something different,” he said.
Reports suggest the poverty rate in Syracuse is one of the highest in the United States. With 32.6 percent of its people living below the poverty line, crime and gun violence has stifled the growth of the community.
The success of Majok has spurred others on such as a former refugee, Jay Subedi, who is vying for a spot on the Common Council against incumbent Republican, Joe Carni.