He was born in Kenya but calls Burlington home. Mohamed Jafar and his family moved to the United States in 2003 through Vermont’s Refugee Resettlement Program.
“It was a lot different for me, snow was something that really changed my life,” he recalled.
Jafar went through the public school system, played soccer and graduated from college in New Hampshire. Now, the 22 year-old’s eyes are set on Burlington’s City Hall.
“There are a lot of things my parents are still trying to figure out and naturally I need to get involved,” he said.
Jafar hopes to defy the odds in beating a longtime incumbent, democrat Joan Shannon for the Queen City’s South District seat on city council.
“For me, getting involved is personal because I have lived in a lot of these situations,” he said.
Expensive housing, income inequality and affordable childcare are all issues Jafar wants to tackle.
“Bringing the discussion to a point where everyone is involved and we have every perspective, we’re able to address a lot more,” he said.
More recently, Jafar’s focus has been easing the transition for new young Americans in Burlington.
“Seeing and remembering all the things that Burlington has given to me and all the people who have helped me become the character I am,” he said. “I feel poised to come back, to get involved immediate a lot of these issues.”
Jafar says he’s ready to tackle the challenges of facing a well-known opponent, but says it’s just the beginning.
“If I don’t get it there is a 115 percent chance I’m going to get it the second time, so I’m in this for the long run,” he said.
Burlington’s progressive party will caucus this Sunday and nominate its candidate.