New faces coming to the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota board

Incumbent Organization of Liberians in Minnesota board chair, Abraham Bah (second left) talks to voters moments after the polls closed in board elections held May 19, 2019 in which he retained his seat. Photo: Tom Gitaa/Mshale

Abraham Bah, the incumbent chair of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota board, easily secured his seat in the organization in an otherwise fiercely contested election that was conducted all day Sunday at the Liberian Community Center. Voters went to the polls to fill six seats in the OLM board that attracted 13 candidates, including four incumbents. Voters were to fill the ballot with their six choices out of the 13. All the incumbents seeking reelection prevailed at the polls.

Organization of Liberians in Minnesota Elections Commission Chair Kamaty Diahn(right) discusses with the rest of his commissioners the mechanics of the vote counting as they get ready to count the ballots in elections held Sunday, May 19, 2019. Photo: Tom Gitaa/Mshale

1,060 ballots were declared valid after a manual count by the elections commission which was observed by Mshale and others. 12 votes were considered spoiled.

The vote counting, which started at 8pm Sunday, concluded at around 4:30am Monday.

The incumbent chair Bah was the top vote-getter, with more than half of those voting selecting him as one of their choices. He received 561 votes. One incumbent, Erasmus Williams, tied with one other competitor Edwina T. Willie at 403 votes each.

Princess Yanforh and Edwina Willie were the two successful women out of the six that ran, receiving 412 and 403 votes respectively. Two other women, Catherine Kantu and Minerva Grant put up respectable numbers, that had they also prevailed, would have produced the first female majority in the OLM board. The election of Yanforh and Willie however boosts the number of women on the board from two to three.

The elections commission chair, Kamaty Diahn, declared the exercise a success and thanked the community for

Incumbent Organization of Liberians in Minnesota board chair, Abraham Bah (second left) talks to voters moments after the polls closed in board elections held May 19, 2019 in which he retained his seat. Photo: Tom Gitaa/Mshale

conducting a peaceful and drama-free election.

“The entire community is a winner in this, and we should continue building on this,” Diahn said as he left the community center.

OLM executive director, Nathalie Gray, urged the community to continue their engagement with OLM and “not just on election day.”

The vote tallies as announced by Mr. Diahn are as follows. You can view the video of his election results announcement at this link.

Election Commissioner Bernice Yeah stands up to triumphantly announce the last ballot about to be counted in the May 19, 2019 Organization of Liberians in Minnesota elections. Photo: Tom Gitaa

Abraham Bah* – 561

Sizi Goyah* – 426

Princess Yanforh – 412

Edwina T. Willie – 403

Erasmus Williams* – 403

Mohamed Dukuly* – 359

Catherine Kantu – 329

Minerva Grant – 326

Abraham S. Turay – 294

Burleigh Holder – 280

Clarence Tweh – 258

Adrianne Gould – 232

Kartumu King – 81

Once the board members are seated, they will choose the chair of the board from among them. The incumbent chair, Mr. Bah, is widely expected to seek another term as chair.

Video: Elections Announcement.

About Tom Gitaa

Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, President and Publisher of Mshale. As the founder, he did a lot of the reporting during the humble beginnings of the newspaper. While he still does the occasional reporting, he now concentrates on the publishing side of the news operation. Tom was also the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dishnetwork satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states such as the president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at State House, Banjul. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as President of the Board of Directors of Books for Africa, the largest shipper of donated books to Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. Tom also served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. He retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on half marathons.

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