Last week, Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam announced that she plans to run for North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District as a Democrat in 2022.
Allam is seeking to replace longtime U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., who recently announced he won't seek reelection. Allam was elected to the Durham County Board of Commissioners in 2020 — becoming the first Muslim woman in North Carolina to serve in public office.
“Nida has been an active member,” Durham County Commissioner Heidi Carter said. “She studies the issues, reaches out to staff and the community for input and tries to promote harmony on the board.”
In the past, she has worked with other government officials to support underrepresented communities in Durham.
“In partnership with (Durham) Council Member (Javiera) Caballero, Nida advocated for the successful initiative to jointly fund a refugee and immigrant coordinator for Durham city and county governments,” said Wendy Jacobs, vice-chairperson of the Durham Board of County Commissioners.
As a commissioner, Allam has also voted in favor of a $15 minimum wage for county employees and supported property tax relief for low-income residents.
This new position, Allam said, has helped refugees and immigrants overcome certain barriers such as enrolling their children in school and paying property taxes.
Her campaign will be one of the first in the state to fall under North Carolina’s new congressional map, which was approved on Nov. 4. The map, which places Orange County in the sixth Congressional District, is already facing a lawsuit for purportedly violating North Carolina’s constitutional guarantees of free, fair and honest elections.
Allam’s political ambitions began in 2015 after three of her friends — Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha— were shot and killed in their home in Chapel Hill. She said her friends were victims of a hate crime and were targeted for their Muslim identity.
“Growing up, we were constantly told that we shouldn’t get involved in politics,” Allam said. “The shooting really triggered for me that we can’t continue down this path anymore. We can’t continue to stay silent.”
She wanted to hold public office as a way to represent the Muslim community, which has long been marginalized in North Carolina politics.
“Any time politicians talked about us was in a negative light,” Allam said. “Other people are going to write our stories and narratives for us if we don’t speak up for ourselves.”
Her campaign is focused on implementing progressive economic and social policies, including support for increasing the minimum wage and protecting access to abortion.
“We really need someone who’s going to hit the ground running and fight for more immediate action,” Allam said. “We can’t afford to send another status quo politician because we’re seeing what’s happening with moderates at the federal level.”
She also stressed the importance of engaging with younger voters.
“We need to be actually engaging younger folks and getting them involved in the political process, so that they can have their voices heard," Allam said.
Allam said that she hopes to speak out for those in North Carolina who have struggled to express their voices in the past, highlighting the difficulties faced by the state’s many minorities.
“I’m someone who, for so long, hadn’t had someone who I could look to in office,” Allam said. “So it’s personal for me to be that representative and to be that type of candidate for other folks.”
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