Lewiston City Council Ward 1 candidate Safiya Khalid greets a voter at the Lewiston Armory on Tuesday morning. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Voters on Tuesday elected 23-year-old Safiya Khalid as the city’s first Somali-American city councilor.

She defeated Walter Hill 642-280 in what became a contentious race late in the campaign.

During a celebration at the Agora Grand Event Center after results came in, Khalid said her campaign is proof that “community organizers beat internet trolls.”

Late Tuesday night, Khalid said she had a gut feeling that Lewiston voters wanted change.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “My campaign was about pushing Lewiston to go forward, and to have an inclusive and diverse government.”

The race for the Ward 1 seat became controversial during the final weeks of the campaign, heightened by an audio recording taken by Hill in late August that allegedly showed city Democratic leaders harassing and threatening him at his home regarding his decision to run against Khalid.

Reached earlier Tuesday, Khalid said she was feeling “cautiously optimistic” about her chances to take the seat.

Asked about the historic moment of becoming the city’s first Somali-American on the council, she said she wasn’t thinking about it.

“Honestly, I’ve just been really focused on running a really good campaign, knocking on doors, and talking to people, not focused on the label or on myself,” she said.

Hill, who was unable to conduct much of a traditional campaign due to a string of health issues, did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Hill had previously said he suffered harassment at his home from Lewiston Democratic Committee Chairman Kiernan Majerus-Collins and Treasurer Owen Cardwell-Copenhefer. After the audio became public, Khalid denounced the incident, and dropped Cardwell-Copenhefer as her campaign treasurer.

Both campaigns said they endured threats from the opposing side.

In other election results for Lewiston City Council:

In Ward 2, incumbent Zack Pettengill beat Donna Gillespie in a rematch of the same race that occurred in 2017, 617-530.

The Ward 3 race was uncontested, with Councilor Alicia Rea running unopposed.

The Ward 4 race was also uncontested, with Councilor Michel Lajoie running unopposed.

The Ward 5 seat, which had been vacant since this spring after Kristen Cloutier took over the role of mayor, will go to former School Committee member Luke Jensen, who ran unopposed.

In Ward 6, where Joline Landry-Beam did not run for re-election, Kerryl Lee Clement bested David Chittim by 45 votes, winning 540-495.

In Ward 7, Councilor Michael Marcotte lost by five votes to Stephanie Gelinas in a race that included Kaitlyn Rourke. Gelinas received 389 votes, to Marcotte’s 384 and Rourke’s 140.


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