Safiya Wazir, a 27-year-old mother of two whose family fled persecution from the Taliban in Afghanistan, beat out Republican Dennis Soucy to earn a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, according to the Concord Monitor in the US.
She is believed to be the first former refugee to serve in the State House.
“She’s one of the reasons I registered,” said Gopal Timsina, who voted for the first time on Tuesday after he turned 18 in July. Timsina’s family came to Concord in 2008 from Nepal.
“It’s great to see minorities stepping up,” he said. “And it’s good to see (refugees), because they’ve been through a lot and some tough times, but now they can be whatever they want.”
Wazir beat Soucy 907 votes to 718, according to unofficial election results.
The Concord Monitor reported that the race generated national attention after Wazir defeated incumbent Dick Patten 329 to 143 in the September primary. Patten, who held four terms as a state rep and is a life-long Concord resident, was critical of Wazir and the refugee and immigrant population saying “a lot has been promised to minorities,” and that those communities have been taking all the affordable housing from senior citizens.
Later, Patten said he would support Soucy because he was also a long-time resident of the area.
Wazir’s family fled the Taliban when she was young, and she spent several years in a refugee camp in Uzbekistan before moving to Concord in the US, where she learned English and worked at Walmart and Goodwill, worked on the high school yearbook committee, ran track, and helped support her family after her parents became ill and could no longer work.
That story resonated with voters, the Concord Monitor reported.