Candidate for Mayor of Chicago

About the Candidate

Name: Amara Enyia
DOB: March 5, 1983
Family: Five siblings
Occupation: Public policy consultant
Political Experience: I was formally trained at the University of Illinois earning undergraduate degrees in journalism and political science. I hold a Master’s Degree in education, a law degree with an international and environmental law focus, and a PhD in Educational Policy.

I’ve built a reputation translating complex public policy to a form that is easily understood and used by the public to arm people with the information they need to make the best decisions for their lives. I’ve consulted with residents, education organizations, elected officials and community groups advocating on a myriad of issues including: education equity, public finance, environmental policy, economic development, and community development.

I founded the Institute for Cooperative Economics and Economic Innovation, a social lab whose primary purpose is to educate, assist, and advocate for the expansion of cooperative economic models and other innovative economic development concepts that would diversify Chicago’s economic eco-system such as worker-owned cooperatives, housing cooperatives, community land trusts, sharing economy platforms, and financial institutions and products that support these enterprises.

I co-authored the book “Chicago Isn’t Broke: Funding the City We Deserve” which proposes fiscally responsible revenue-generating proposals for the City as well as ways to eliminate corruption and waste in city government. I am a staunch advocate for transparency in city government and equity as a matter of policy. My goal is to help communities – especially challenged communities – unlock their civic imagination so they are empowered to create the solutions that address the city’s most pressing issues. I have worked in city government, managed a municipality, run non-profits, and worked at the grassroots level where I’ve always served as a bridge-builder and advocate.

Candidate Statement

The most inspiring part about running for office is convincing those who feel ignored to relentlessly engage. We become so used to being deceived that tolerating Chicago machine mediocrity becomes more appealing than refusing to accept things as they are.

The status quo uses neighborhood difference as tools to divide us; as though what Ravenswood needs is any different than what Englewood requires. I’m here to tell you there’s a better way that gives more to those that have less; and a stronger presence to those treated like they are invisible.

Our campaign is armed with the courage and perspective, that’s exactly what this city needs.

There are no contradictions between what I say and do. My track record speaks for itself.

This is our moment to determine if all 77 communities have the boldness to move forward where equity is a matter of policy, where integrity is not a figment of our imagination, and where we can actually trust the leadership that is responsive and amplifies the voices of its people.

This is the crux of our platform. That is the foundation of all of the work that I do.

A politician enacts what the practitioner does and what the organizer fights for. I’m a practitioner who has fought on every single issue facing this city; with a body of work advocating for the disregarded, the compassion to listen, a policy soul to stoke change, a PhD to teach, a legal mind to be an independent thinker, and a heart of social justice to inspire.

If this is the type of mind, body, passion, soul, and heart you want for city leadership, my name is Amara Enyia, and I’m running to be the next mayor, for our beloved City of Chicago.

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

Our campaign amplifies a sense of responsibility about what we can imagine a city looks like where equity is a matter of policy, where integrity is not a figment of our imagination, and where we can actually trust the leadership that is responsive and amplifies the voices of the people of this city.

This is the crux of our platform. That is the foundation of all of the work that I do.

We must do this now because we have a school system where address, income and race determine the quality of education received; Where, if you have two hours to commute to a good school, you’re good; But if you live in a community that has been disinvested? Good luck. Where we talk about an economy that’s inclusive, yet we resist innovate economic strategies that move communities forward. What does it mean to have a growth economy, if someone can’t get a job? What does it mean to talk about fiscal solvency in the city, if people can’t even afford to stay in their homes? They’re priced out, pushed out, displaced because of gentrification, and a development attitude that favors profit over people.

Imagine a city committed to all people being able to participate and thrive. The foundation of our campaign is based on the premise of imagining a city that actually reflects our values; Where we can talk about what a cooperative economy looks like: How do “worker cooperatives” diversify our economic environment? How does it build wealth that can keep people in their homes and communities? Where we talk about entrepreneurs being able to open up their businesses with resources that don’t have to rely on redlining from traditional banks. What does it look like to have a public bank in the City of Chicago, whose only responsibility is to make sure the city’s economy is strong instead of generating profits for shareholders?

What does it look like having an education system that does not use school boundaries to perpetuate segregation? What does like to have a school system that isn’t the ”Hunger Games” , where as soon as your child is born, parents are trying to get them into a selective enrollment school by the time they’re two years old? What does it look like for teachers being able to teach, and actually enjoy the art of teaching as opposed to oppressive policies that drain their joy and passion?

The ideas our campaign promotes are quite possible. We see a city that’s been stifled by what’s realistic; Stifled by the fear of doing things as we’ve always done them; Stifled by the formulas that everybody thinks they have; that have only worked for very few.

We are at a unique point at this city’s history; where we have the ability to determine the future of the city for the next 2 generations. Where the decisions we make determine who gets to be a Chicagoan. Will we cede the city to those who operate only in the realm of “what’s realistic?”-- where only those who have money have access, where only those who clout have a voice, and those who dare to dream are told: “that’s not realistic.” Where we settle for the status quo. As a city, we have a chance to move away from a status quo that has not worked for far too many. This is our moment to determine if we have the boldness to move forward, spearhead by a mayoral candidate whose purpose is to amplify the voices of everyday Chicagoans.

What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?

The issues affecting this city aren’t hierarchal. The interconnectedness of the aforementioned issues and my understanding and experience working with those most impacted precludes this campaign from prioritizing one over the other.

As such, in terms of the city’s affordable housing crisis, we must increase the affordable housing percentage mandate for developers. We must increase affordable housing for family size units. It is vital that we eliminate the developer “opt out for a fee” provision. It is time that we eliminate aldermanic prerogative specific to affordable housing placement; affordable housing should be citywide, not ward‐specific. An increase and expansion of the real estate transfer tax to include economic development uses would address the city’s neighborhood equity deficit. The rent control ban must be lifted. We should institute a collaborative holistic model that tethers homelessness mitigation, substance abuse counselling, mental health services and veteran’s services to housing.

We must ensure Chicago is an equity, fairness, and opportunity sanctuary for ALL residents. Training, protections, and protocol standards will preserve the civil dignity of undocumented immigrants and protect them from harassment and deportation. We must also honor and enforce asylum principles for undocumented immigrants.

Violence reduction demands that we enforce the police consent decree and stricter requirements for gun ownership, including but not limited to: license registration, training, and record of purchase; mandatory background checks for private sales; restriction of multiple purchases; banning military rifle purchases; eliminating “conceal and carry”; barring at‐risk citizens from buying firearms; adopting technological protocols to minimize violence; and eliminating legal immunity for gun manufacturers. We must expand funding for violence prevention enrichment programming through community based and driven youth employment, mentorship and reentry programming. We ought to expand restorative justice models of community engagement, while restoring funding for sustainable block clubs. We must establish an administrative bridge between the Chicago Police department and the Department of Public Health specific to de‐escalation protocols during law enforcement encounters with the mental disability population.

We must support and ignite economic growth in ALL neighborhoods, while putting a stop to policies that cost taxpayers way more to get far less.

We must eliminate the racial and economic stratification of public education access and quality. The education funding model must steer away from student based budgeting. An elected school board must demand a charter school moratorium. In addition, we must increase support for local school councils and restore mental, social, and behavioral services.

It is of paramount importance to diversify the economic environment by increasing the presence of resident and worker owned‐cooperative enterprises. By creating a public bank we should also develop the small business sector with local ownership and institute cooperative‐owned land trusts.

Amara Enyia on the Issues