Chance the Rapper is not only throwing his celebrity power and fundraising muscle behind Amara Enyia. He’s giving her his time and his ideas on how to confront Chicago’s issues, the mayoral candidate said Friday.
Chief among those ideas, Enyia said, is their shared plan to bolster mental health services decimated by clinic closings and state funding cuts and bring “equity” to student funding in the Chicago Public Schools.
Two weeks ago, Chance used the second annual summit for his SocialWorks charity to announce $100,000 grants to 20 more CPS schools.
He also announced a $1 million donation to mental health services in Chicago and proposed, “My State of Mind,” billed as a “new way to think about” and access mental health services.
It’s not surprising, then, that both of Chance’s passions are at the forefront of Enyia’s agenda.
“We’ve talked about, how do you expand these services in communities, but also how do you make sure that, in CPS, kids have access to licensed social workers and nurses? We’re thinking about ways to shift investment,” Enyia told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“We talk about . . . student-based budgeting and what it means for schools experiencing population loss . . . We [need] a budgeting formula that says, these schools in these challenged areas have a higher need for these sorts of positions. We have not done that at CPS . . . One of the things we want to do is create a new model through an equity lens.”
If that sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul, it is. But Chance and Enyia don’t look at it that way. Not when the West Side has “very few, if at all” International Baccalaureate programs for students, she said.
“There are some areas and some schools that have . . . not been getting the kinds of resources they need to do justice for the students,” she said.
“It is in everyone’s collective interest to make sure we have high-quality neighborhood schools across the city. That means reassessing how CPS allocates funds for capital and programmatic expenditures. It’s only fair so that people don’t have to feel they’re at a disadvantage just by virtue of where they live.”
Earlier this week, Chance dramatically elevated Enyia’s long-shot candidacy with his celebrity endorsement and vowed to launch a “massive” voter registration drive to get her elected.
“I’d like to say very narcissistically, if I back you, you have a chance — absolutely,” the Grammy-winning hip-hop artist told a jam-packed City Hall news conference.
On Friday, Enyia described how she made the connection with Chicago’s homegrown rapper.The candidate said she and Chance found themselves “in a lot of similar spaces” through their mutual work in the community. But they had never met until Chance texted her “out of the blue.”
“He said, ‘I think you’re dope. I definitely want to connect about what’s going on in the city’ . . . We met, we started talking and it just clicked,” she said.
“Typically, with celebrity endorsements, it’s sort of a flash-in-the-pan, one-shot deal . . . We actually are going to be working together and co-campaigning . . . essentially until the end of the election cycle.”
The share-the-wealth, empower the community philosophy carries through Enyia’s entire platform.
She wants to deposit city revenues in a “public bank” instead of private banks and use the money to “promote economic growth.”
Instead of trying to rebuild Chicago’s moribund community policing program, she wants to dedicate a “percentage” of the Chicago Police Department’s annual budget to block clubs that promote public safety.
To confront a $1 billion spike in pension payments without yet another increase in property taxes, Enyia would consider imposing a graduated city income tax. That’s something that only the Illinois General Assembly could authorize.
Instead of forging ahead with Emanuel’s plan to let visionary billionaire Elon Musk build an underground transit line between downtown and O’Hare, Enyia said Chicago should at least consider removing the park on Northerly Island and reopening Meigs Field.
Chance’s endorsement of Enyia was widely-viewed as a major blow to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, whose mayoral campaign chairman is the rapper’s father, Ken Bennett.
On Friday, Enyia only added to that perception. She blasted Preckwinkle for her regressive tax choices—on sales and sugary beverages until the Cook County Board repealed it — and questioned whether she has either the desire or the energy to confront Chicago’s intransigent problems.
Enyia noted that, before Mayor Rahm Emanuel pulled the plug on his re-election bid, the 71-year-old Preckwinkle planned to serve one more term as county board president then ride off into the political sunset.