Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
My professional experience is in engineering. I spent over two decades locally as an engineer and senior project manager at Boeing and AT&T. Throughout that time I have been committed to volunteering locally in Kent, mentoring youth, organizing community events, and increasing food security.
I am so proud to have lived in Kent for over 15 years and raised four amazing kids here with my wife Shamso. I moved to the United States from Somalia when I was a teenager, fresh out of high school. I became an engineer and worked for Boeing and AT&T while we raised our family. My experience as an engineer and senior project manager taught me how to invest in people, listen, and bring them together to solve big challenges. Every time I had a chance to create my team at AT&T I always made sure my team was diverse in gender, age, and race. I believe wisdom is in the collective. All of which are very useful skills I look forward to bringing to City Hall. We are a family committed to public service, and I am passionate about giving back to the city that gave my family so much. For years I’ve volunteered, mentored, and supported local nonprofits throughout Kent. For the last number of years I have been working outside of my day job on increasing food access for families in Kent.
My vision for Kent is based off of the simple principle that what we desire for ourselves we should wish for all. I truly believe that every single family and individual deserves good, stable housing and access to economic opportunities that pay living wages. My vision for Kent is one of deepening our commitment to our community through investing in people and the services they rely on.
My vision for Kent is where everyone has a home, they have access to frequent, fast, and reliable public transit, our parks and recreational spaces are utilized and expanded, and our neighborhoods are safe for our kids to play and our elders to walk. My vision for Kent is a city where families don’t have to take 3 or 4 jobs to pay the bills, but instead parents can get by with one job that pays a living wage, has union representation, and fair benefits.
I believe we can create a Kent that is more prosperous, just, and inclusive. And I want to be a part in helping build that vision.
Kent is experiencing an exciting and consequential time of transformation. We are one of the fastest growing cities in Washington State. In just one lifetime we’ve gone from being a small town outside Seattle to a city of 130,000 that is diverse and ever-growing. It’s clear that the changes Kent is experiencing are going to continue, especially as more people are priced out of their homes in Seattle and Bellevue.
I know we need people on City Council who truly understand these issues and have lived them, like me and my family have. We need folks on City Council and in our regional governments who are committed to building on this vision, and ensuring it’s a shared vision across our city and our region.
Our environment is so precious to our collective quality of life, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Many of us, even though we might have grown up in more urban or suburban neighborhoods, feel a great connection to the mountains, forests, and waters of our incredible state. I believe that municipal governments are on the front lines of dealing with many policies that impact our environment.
For example, a lot of transportation policy, land use policy, zoning, and Growth Management Act-related policies are all firmly within the responsibilities of city governments. As city leaders, it is our duty to ensure that development is managed responsibly, we protect our environment, and use every tool we have to create more livable cities for all our residents.
Kent is not without our growing pains certainly, and one of the biggest areas we notice this in is traffic, transit, and our infrastructure. I have personally knocked on over 8,000 doors in this election and I hear from people all across town how poor our transit and pedestrian infrastructure are. People are stuck in their cars mostly, and when they do want to ride transit it takes them three times as long to get where they need to go - and if they walk they don’t feel safe on many streets.
We need more connector busses across town between the East Hill, downtown, and West Hill to fill these needs. We also need to plan ahead for the future light rail station so residents all across Kent can connect to that vital piece of infrastructure. Beyond transit we need to also be more creative about how to improve pedestrian safety, invest in multimodal methods of transportation, and build a city that works for all people of all mobilities and abilities.
The crisis of homelessness is a crushing and pressing challenge all across our region. Every year it seems to get worse, with more of our neighbors sleeping on the street and more families without stable homes. I applaud many of the efforts the city of Kent is already engaged in, and I know there are more, new, and different approaches to solving homelessness that we can try as a city.
I am in favor of allowing more homes of all types, sizes, and prices to be built in Kent. More supply will hopefully mean a modest drop in prices which could ease the housing market pressures. I also am in favor of working toward protections for renters so far fewer people become homeless in the first place just because they’re one paycheck away from being evicted.
I know Kent is doing a lot to connect people experiencing homelessness with existing services, and those are efforts that should be continued. This is a hugely complex issue, and sadly homelessness does not have one solution.
Kent is an increasingly diverse city with residents who come from all over the world making their homes and raising their families in Kent. And we are so lucky! Many new immigrant-owned and run businesses have been started, bringing life and productivity into areas of town that previously had empty storefronts. We are so blessed to be the home to so many Washingtonians who originally came from somewhere else.
As an immigrant myself, I believe Kent should focus on deepening our connection with the diverse communities that live here. We should approach immigration as the huge opportunity to grow our community that it is, and work within communities to learn about them, their needs, and how we can partner to build Kent up together.
I know that city councils are most effective when they are in the community and listening to the concerns of residents. It is our job to listen to people and hear what they need. I also recognize that the current configuration of council does not suit the schedules of many Kent residents. Holding public meetings downtown at City Hall at strange hours, does not do a good job accommodating people who work swing shift, night shift, or don’t have reliable transportation.
I am in favor of exploring new ways to hold council meetings around the city, at different hours of the day, and in various languages and formats so we as a council can get in the habit of going where residents are at their times - not the other way around. I believe a more accommodating and flexible style of city government meetings and hearings would increase public participation and lead to much better policy outcomes for our city.
Town where you live
I am a longtime Kent resident, community volunteer, Army veteran, mother, and police officer’s spouse, I have a broad view of Kent’s issues and an understanding of how city government works. For the past 5 years as a member of Kent’s Parks and Recreation Commission, I have been advocating for the residents of Kent regarding parks, open space, and recreation topics. As a member of this commission, I have successfully advocated for more funding for Kent’s parks system. From my time as a Green Kent Steward, youth basketball coach, and former Kent School District employee, I have met and worked with a diverse range of people from Kent and understand their unique challenges.
I believe that Kent can be a great place to live, play, and work and I want all Kent residents to have the best quality of life possible. The people of Kent deserve clean, beautiful parks and a safe and vibrant community. Crime prevention means not only investing in our police but also in our youth and creating a clear homelessness strategy. I want Kent's officers visible and present in public spaces and engaged with our community. I also want to protect and invest in our parks, open spaces, and environment, and encourage businesses to occupy existing, empty storefronts in the downtown core and other shopping areas.
We must also focus on those with the most needs in our community. We need to ensure there are adequate social, health, and housing resources for seniors, veterans, and homeless communities. I will work toward all of these goals while also achieving financial stability for the city.
There is no doubt a huge financial challenge in Kent. The city lost a huge revenue source when the State Legislature changed the local retail sales tax to destination-based. We must continue lobbying for state streamlined sales tax mitigation funds while we continue to find other solutions. The city must become creative in finding things to cut from the budget.
Homelessness and affordable housing are other challenges that Kent and the greater region are facing. There needs to be a significant societal shift to address these two issues successfully.
We, as a society, can no longer ignore climate change. Citizens and governments at all levels must do their part. The city council can pass ordinances for individuals and businesses mandating or prohibiting certain activities, but the larger issues like habitat restoration and cleanups will require a larger funding commitment. This means advocating and getting support from organizations and county, state, and federal funds for environmental projects.
I have consistently and will continue to fight to save open spaces and parks from development. We must preserve open spaces for future generations and rehabilitate our waterways for salmon habitat. These things require a commitment from our legislators.
As Kent’s population continues to grow, so does the traffic on our roads. This traffic creates more wear on our roads. In order to alleviate some of this, we need to not only fix our roads but also make Kent more pedestrian, public transportation, and bike friendly. High-density housing should be built near high-capacity public transit stations. There are a lack of sidewalks and bike lanes and lack of reliable public transportation on the East Hill. The council needs to continue to work with King County Metro to get more bus routes there and they also need to invest in building more sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes.
Homelessness is a complicated issue which American cities have not yet figured out. As a society, we must address the root causes of homelessness, some of which include a lack of resources for addicts and people with mental health issues, and a lack of affordable housing.
I believe in a multi-prong approach for Kent. This involves having a 3-department team go out into homeless encampments. The team consists of a police officer to keep everyone safe and explain any law violations; the second person is a social worker who can provide social and mental and physical health resources, and connect individuals to organizations to help with job and housing placement; the third person should be from the public works department to make a note of the location of the encampment, document what needs to be cleaned up and hauled away, and assess the area for prevention measures. Finally, there needs to be follow-up with the individual and location.
America is made up of immigrants and Kent is lucky to have such a diverse community of refugees and immigrants from all over the world. They make Kent a more culturally rich place to live. Immigrants deserve to be treated as individuals not otherized and stereotyped as a group. Furthermore, we should not be separating children from their parents.
Having worked in the nurse’s office at a Kent elementary school, I learned a lot about the challenges of refugees and immigrant communities. The families I met believed in the American Dream and were trying to get out of horrible conditions in their home countries. America is built on these ideas. People deserve a chance at a better life. Having lived outside the U.S. myself, I know how difficult it is to try to learn a foreign language and culture not to mention navigate a complicated health system. We must work to guide individuals to become self-sufficient.
Communication needs to move beyond providing information at public meetings and on social media and a nonusable website. Meaningful communication is two-sided and should provide some benefit to both parties. The city can and should do much more to ensure better engagement. I strongly believe in meaningful political engagement with citizens and I extensively researched this very topic in my recent Honors thesis and cited various examples of engagement which increase democracy in city-level government.
There is a difference between simply providing and collecting information and allowing citizens to make real changes in their communities. People might be more interested in attending meetings if they actually had the chance to deliberate and work with the council on issues. Additionally, providing information on a difficult-to-use website does not count as good government transparency. So, the solution is to get more people involved in the decision-making processes early on.