AUGUSTA, Maine — A new Maine State Legislature has been elected this week, including six people of color now serving in Augusta. Some of them are making history.
"I cannot emphasize enough that our government reflect the people it's serving," Mana Abdi, state representative-elect from Lewiston said.
Abdi's family left Somalia to escape civil war, and she was later born in Kenya. She's been a Mainer for more than a decade and as of Tuesday, she's a Maine state representative elect.
"I look forward to just getting there and being able to start, like we should have started yesterday if it was up to me," she said with a laugh.
At 26 years old, Abdi is not only heading to Augusta. She also works at Bates College, where she helps students who are also immigrants.
"Our mission is to really foster community, foster education, and foster belonging for our students who are historically underrepresented," she said.
Abdi is one of two Somalian immigrants who made history on Election Day. South Portland Mayor Deqa Dhalac also was elected to the House, but she was unable to speak with NEWS CENTER Maine this week.
Abdi and Dhalac are the first Somalian immigrants to be elected to the Maine state legislature.
Jill Duson is also making history.
Duson, a longtime Portland city councilor, is the first black woman to be elected to the Maine Senate.
"[I'm] stepping up to try to do what I can to make a difference and to build a community that I want for my kids and for everybody else," Duson said.
Duson, a Portland resident, is the first person of color to be elected to any city council in the state and the first black woman to be elected as a mayor. She said she is always happy to be the first.
"For me, it's just so important not to be the last," she said.
She added that Maine isn't as white as many people think, and diversity and representation of people of color is increasing across the state and in Augusta.