How A Liberian Refugee Got To Be A Montana Mayor

In a year of anti-refugee sentiment in many corners of the world (and especially in the U.S.), one former refugee and first-time candidate ran for office — and won.

Twenty-three years before Wilmot Collins became the mayor-elect of Helena, Mont., he was a refugee from Liberia. He stood in a long line at the port of Monrovia, Liberia, waiting for a cargo vessel to carry him away from the country’s civil war.

Running on a progressive platform this November, Collins unseated a four-term incumbent in the capital city of Montana, a state where just over half a percent of the population is black. Collins, 54, will be sworn in on Jan. 2.