Abdi Warsame

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Abdi Warsame
Member of the Minneapolis City Council from the 6th Ward
Assumed office
January 2, 2014
Preceded by Robert Lilligren
Personal details
Born 1977/1978 (age 35–36)
Political party Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party
Children one daughter
Residence Seward, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Alma mater Middlesex University
University of Greenwich

Abdi Warsame (Somali: Cabdi Warsame, Arabic: عبدي وارسام‎) (born 1977/1978) is an American politician and member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2013, he was elected to the Minneapolis City Council, becoming the first Somali American to be elected the position.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Warsame was born in 1977 or 1978 in Somalia.[1][2] He later moved as a child to London.[1]

Warsame earned a B.S. in Business from the Middlesex University. He also holds a Master's degree in International Business from the University of Greenwich.[3]

In 2006, Warsame settled in Minneapolis. He has a six year-old daughter who was born in the city.[3] As of 2013, Warsame is a resident of the Seward neighborhood.[1]


Early career[edit]

Warsame first entered politics in 2011, while working on Mohamud Noor's campaign for a state Senate seat on a DFL ticket.[1]

Additionally, Warsame is an Executive Director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association, which represents the tenants of Riverside Plaza.[1]

He also established the Citizen's Committee for Fair Redistricting.[3]

Minneapolis City Council[edit]

Warsame ran in the 2013 Minneapolis municipal elections to represent Ward 6 on the Minneapolis City Council. Prior to the ballot, he had urged the Minneapolis Charter Commission to redraw the municipality's political districts so as to maximize the East African community's vote.[1] The commission concurred and established a number of new precincts in Ward 6.[4]

Somali professionals contributed significantly to Warsame's election campaign, particularly early on. Fundraising totals show that Warsame was among Minneapolis's top tier of successful fundraisers.[5] Lawyer and political operative Brian Rice was Warsame's strategist for the campaign.[6]

Warsame's campaign was criticized by DFLer Robert Lilligren's caucus captain Maryam Marne Zafar, who alleged that Warsame supporters tried to turn voters away from Lilligren by highlighting the fact that Lilligren was openly gay.[7] Lilligren also charged that Warsame supporters had capitalized on language barriers to win votes.[8] Warsame dismissed the claims as sour grapes stemming from a lack of support for Lilligren's campaign, and added that he specifically told members of his political team not to use Lilligren's sexual orientation as a talking point.[7] A DFL committee also rejected the Lilligren team's allegations.[8]

Just before the election, the political action committee of Palestinian real estate developer Basim Sabri, who had a personal feud with Lilligren, produced controversial fliers smearing Lilligren and asserting that he discriminated against minorities, the elderly, and the poor.[8][9] The fliers urged voters instead to cast their ballots for Warsame. Warsame's campaign team emailed a statement denouncing the Sabri committee's pamphlets and their use of Warsame's name. It also indicated that Sabri and his action group were unaffiliated with the Vote Warsame For Ward 6 campaign and were instead acting out of their own volition.[8]

On November 5, 2013, Warsame was elected to represent the predominantly Somali Ward 6 on the Minneapolis City Council. He was the first-choice preference of 64% of voters, and received 40% of second-choice votes, and 20% of third-choice votes. The incumbent, Robert Lilligren, received 32% of first-choice votes, almost 27% of second-choice votes, and 13% of third-choice votes. The victory makes Warsame the first Somali American to hold the position.[1] Warsame and Ahmed M. Hassan, who was elected to the Clarkston, Georgia City Council on the same day, are the first Somali Americans to be elected to municipal offices in the United States and the highest elected Somali Americans in the country.[1][10]

Electoral history[edit]

Minneapolis City Council Ward 6 election, 2013[11]
Political party/principle Candidate  % 1st Choice Round 1
DFL Abdi Warsame 63.92 3,090
DFL Robert Lilligren 32.21 1,557
DFL Abdi Addow 1.80 87
DFL Sheikh Abdul 0.81 39
DFL Mahamed A Cali 0.52 25
DFL Abukar Abdi 0.41 20
N/A Write-in 0.33 16
  • Maximum possible threshold: 2,526
  • Valid: 4,834
  • Undervotes: 205
  • Turnout: 5,051


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Williams, Brandt (5 November 2013). "Warsame wins seat on Minneapolis City Council". MPR News. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Grove, Ben (6 November 2013). "3 Minneapolis Council incumbents ousted; 1st Somali elected". BringeMeTheNews. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Meet Abdi". Votewarsame.com. Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ Gilbert, Curtis (May 22, 2013). "Abdi Warsame, contender for City Council, out to change perspectives". MPR News. 
  5. ^ "Abdi Warsame becomes first African-born Minneapolis City Council member". Twin Cities Daily Planet. November 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ Rao, Maya (September 30, 2013). "Brian Rice: Behind the scenes in Minneapolis politics, but widespread influence". Star Tribune. 
  7. ^ a b Rao, Maya (April 26, 2013). "Political hardball alleged in Minneapolis council race". Star Tribune. 
  8. ^ a b c d Rupar, Aaron (November 6, 2013). "Basim Sabri, man behind pro-Abdi Warsame fliers, says he prefers Hitler to Lilligren". City Pages. 
  9. ^ Marx, Jesse (November 5, 2013). "Abdi Warsame supporters distribute late-hour campaign smear". City Pages. 
  10. ^ Rao, Maya (November 17, 2013). "Warsame to bring rising Somali clout to Minneapolis City Hall". Star Tribune. 
  11. ^ "2013 Minneapolis Election Results: City Council Ward 6". City of Minneapolis. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 

External links[edit]