Among the most pressing issues facing Abdi Warsame, the council’s first Somali-American member, is a string of recent unsolved Somali killings. By some estimates, Warsame’s ward is about 40 percent East African residents.



“Not a single person has been apprehended. Not a single person has been charged. So that’s a big problem for the community.”



To address the issue over the long term, Warsame said the city needs to create more mentorship and athletic programs tailored to youth — as well as vocational programs for adults — to keep people out of trouble: Young East Africans “live in high-rises; they don’t have mentorship programs that are tailored to them,” he said.



“If we can create enough jobs in the city and create enough opportunity, then people will feel safe, the city will be better, [people] will be hopeful about their lives.”


Regarding public safety, he would like to see more officers of color as the Police Department replaces retiring cops. “That has to be done in a way where it reflects … the demographic change of the city.”



Letters come addressed to “honorable this and honorable that” and staffers at City Hall treat him like a very important person. “I understood it’s a very important public servant job, but the way people look at you — especially within my community — has been surprising.” But he doesn’t take it too seriously: “My feet are firmly on the ground.”