Who is Amara Enyia?


Mayoral candidate Amara Enyia speaks at a City Hall press conference in October after Chance The Rapper endorsed her. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Amara Enyia is a marathon runner, a multilingual activist, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants and a journalist turned lawyer. She is also a candidate for mayor who on Tuesday landed the endorsement of Chance the Rapper.

Enyia, 35, became the 11th candidate for mayor (there are now 17) when she announced, for the second time, her candidacy for mayor. She currently serves as the director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

A resident of Garfield Park, she grew up in the south suburbs and earned a PhD in Education Policy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

When Enyia announced that she would run, she spoke about her goals to create a public bank, against a controversial police training academy planned for Garfield Park and for diverting police funds to building block clubs that allow for communities to self-monitor. On her campaign website, she said she wants an elected school board and promises not to accept corporate PAC money or gifts.

In a 2015 column for the Chicago Sun-Times, Enyia said instead of pursuing an expensive plan to connect O’Hare Airport with Downtown via high-speed rail, the city should invest more in fixing infrastructure in the city’s neighborhoods. She spoke against CTA cuts and said the city should do more to fix roads and antiquated drainage systems to prevent flooding.

“Perhaps we should be prioritizing initiatives that would make Chicago truly world class, not just for those passing through, but for the millions who live in the city’s neighborhoods,” she said.

In an interview, Enyia said despite the high-profile endorsement, she will continue her grassroots-style campaign, aligning herself with groups such as the Treasure Island workers suing the company for laying them off on short notice and the remaining Chicago hotel workers on strike who are fighting for benefits such as year-round healthcare coverage.

She welcomed Chance’s support, which led to “nonstop” phone calls and campaign donations, she said. And, it led to her website crashing.

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