Community leader Shukri Olow [Shuu-kree Oh-low] recently announced that she is running for King County Council District Five, which includes all or parts of Kent, SeaTac, Tukwila, Burien, Normandy Park, Des Moines, and Renton. If elected, Shukri would be the first Black woman to win a county council seat in Washington.
Among her early supporters are Senator T’wina Nobles, State Representative Jamila Taylor, State Representative Debra Enteman, Deputy Mayor of Burien Krystal Marx, Tukwila City Council member Cynthia Delostrinos Johnson, Highline School Board member Fai’zah Bradford, and many more community members who are excited about Olow’s vision for the district. Because of early community support, Olow has raised over $110,000 for this seat.
When civil war broke out in her native Somalia, Olow and her family fled to a Kenyan refugee camp. As the oldest daughter of her widowed mother, she grew up fast.
“I was four when we left Somalia,” recalls Olow. “In the camp I walked two miles every day to fetch water, then cleaned and watched over the smaller children. I remember my mother, from that age onwards, calling me a helper. I believe this has informed the public service work I’ve been engaged in for over a decade.”
After 10 years threatened by war and conflict, Olow’s family was resettled in America.
“I still remember our relief,” she says. “For the first-time ever I was hopeful. I felt everything would be okay.”
Just as she helped in the refugee camp, Olow and her family were lifted up by helpers here in King County.
“Teachers, nurses, social workers all helped us,” says Olow. “The clerk at the grocery store, the mail carrier, the librarian…the whole community surrounded us with welcome and helped us imagine a better future. Our American future.”
“Now,” Shukri says, “COVID-19 has shredded our communities. The people who want to help are weakened, and those who need help are furthest from those opportunities. I’m running for County Council to help rebuild strong, resilient communities, where everyone can have hope.”
Olow emphasizes four goals in her campaign. First, improve worker protections and investments. Second, implement innovative solutions to the housing crisis, to protect both property owners and tenants. Third, create easier access to local government. And fourth, eliminate barriers to justice in the legal system.
Olow lives in Kent with her family, including her mother and two children. She is a Doctoral Candidate in the College of Education at Seattle University and has worked for Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Housing Authority. She has also served on several boards such as Kent Youth and Family Services, Kent YMCA, and One America Votes.