Indian American activist Sameena Mustafa is running for Congress in Illinois’ 5th Congressional District, vying for the Democratic nomination in the March 20 primary. Mustafa is among four Democrats running in the primary, including incumbent Rep. Mike Quigley, who has held the seat since he was elected in 2009. The other candidates in the primary are Steve Schwartzberg and Benjamin Thomas Wolf.
Sameena’s story is the story of the American Dream. The story of opportunity, hard work and dedication to service. “I’m Sameena Mustafa. My background is I’ve worked in business, non-profit and the arts. Most recently I was a commercial real estate tenant advocate for 13 years representing groups, non-profits, small business that represent the most marginalized in our community, so women and girls, the LBT community, immigrants and refugees, and that has been my life’s work. I’ve been on boards, I’ve been a volunteer for domestic violence shelters, it is my passion to work for the community, and this is a continuation of that,” she told The Sun Times recently.
Mustafa, the daughter of Muslim immigrants from India who has lived in the 5th Congressional District of Illinois for three decades, has worked in business, the non-profit sector and the arts.
Sameena was born in Evanston, IL to Indian Muslim immigrant parents and grew up in the Edgebrook neighborhood of Chicago. Her father worked as an engineer at O’Hare, and her mother as a pediatrician at the Uptown Board of Health Clinic. Sameena attended Chicago Public Schools, Regina Dominican H.S., and graduated from Northwestern University.
After graduation, she managed a Planned Parenthood clinic, and for the past decade has worked in real estate as a tenant advocate for small businesses and community nonprofits serving women, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ, and sexual assault survivors.
Sameena has lived in the 5th District for 30 years and currently resides in the North Center neighborhood with her husband, Talha.
Sameena has been a leader in the business, arts, and nonprofit communities for 25 years. For over a decade she has counseled and negotiated on behalf of small businesses and nonprofits against landlords and financial institutions as a real estate tenant representative and advocate for organizations such as Upwardly Global, Instituto del Progreso Latino, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Rape Victim Advocates, Chicago Women’s Health Center and the Chicago Foundation for Women.
As a former Planned Parenthood manager, she is the only candidate in the race with direct healthcare experience in a federally-funded clinic.
In Congress, Mustafa said she will fight for economic justice, human rights and political reform to show that the 5th District stands for bold, progressive and inclusive leadership. Mustafa’s priorities include reproductive choice for women, Medicare for all, pushing for a living wage and empowering workers, ensuring rights and protections for all people, providing a path to citizenship to immigrants regardless of status, fighting voter suppression, rolling back the systemic architecture of mass incarceration, revamping the corporate and individual tax system, campaign finance reform, combating climate change, and protecting net neutrality, her site said.
“I will fight for the causes that are important to the people of the 5th District and work to resolve the issues that affect the American people most,” she said in a Chicago Sun-Times report. “We are living in a critical time in our history and the need for representatives who are not beholden to corporate donors and lobbyists has never been greater. This is why I will push for a constitutional amendment to ensure free and fair elections to address the corrosive effect of money in politics.”