Enyia in 2018
1982/1983 (age 37–38)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
|🏡 Residence||Garfield Park, Chicago|
|🏫 Education||University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (BS, MEd, JD, PhD)|
Amarachuku C. Enyia, known as Amara Enyia, is an American politician, community organizer, and municipal consultant. She is the director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce in Chicago and Chief Executive Officer of ACE Municipal Partners, a municipal consulting firm. Enyia was a candidate for mayor of Chicago in 2015 and 2019.
Early life and education
Enyia's parents were born in Nigeria and migrated to the United States in the 1970s. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland and raised in University Park, Illinois, where she attended Crete-Monee High School. She attended graduate school and law school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received a Master of Education in 2008, a J.D. in 2009, and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies in 2010.
Enyia worked in the policy department of the Chicago mayor's office until the end of Mayor Richard M. Daley's term in May 2011. After the fellowship, she worked as a community organizer in Chicago's West Side, and served as the executive director of Austin Coming Together, an umbrella organization that promotes coordination and collaboration between community and nonprofit organizations in Austin, Chicago. She also founded ACE Municipal Partners, a consulting firm that works with municipal officials, and serves as executive director for the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
In May 2017, Enyia took a job as the interim village manager of University Park, Illinois. Her brief tenure as interim village manager was later reported to have been troublesome, with a dispute taking place between her and the village surrounding what her salary should be, and some village trustees criticizing her during her tenure for doing what they regarded to be an insufficient amount of work. The village's mayor Vivian Covington praised the value of Eniya's legal expertise, despite critics in the village arguing it was limited in value by the fact she was not a practicing attorney. In August 2017, her tenure ended.
2015 Chicago mayoral election
She withdrew from the race on December 9, 2014 and endorsed Bob Fioretti the next day. Enyia dropped-out due to the fact that her candidature petitions were being challenged, and her campaign lacked the resources to fight such a challenge.
2019 Chicago mayoral election
On August 28, 2018, Enyia announced that she would once again run for Chicago mayor in the 2019 election, at a campaign launch event in Bridgeport. Enyia expressed support for police reform, increasing budget transparency, investment in neighborhood development projects, and proposed the creation of a public bank and the use of Community Benefits Agreements for large development projects.
On October 16, 2018, she was endorsed by Chance the Rapper, garnering significant attention for her campaign in local media and national media. Chance later donated $400,000 to her campaign.
On January 31, Dorothy A. Brown, whose own candidacy had ended after she was removed from the ballot due to issues with her petition, endorsed Enyia.
Due to her 2015 campaign not filing quarterly finance reports after it was suspended, she accrued $73,540 in debt that would have to be paid in order for her to appear on the 2019 ballot. On October 22, 2018, Kanye West made a contribution of that exact amount to Enyia's campaign. The campaign released a statement saying "The $73,540 debt to the Illinois State Board of Elections had been paid in full. The Amara Enyia campaign thanks Chicago native, Kanye West, for his generous action."
Eniya's campaign focused much of its efforts on the youth vote. One of her efforts was a February 11 "Party to the Polls", which Eniya described as a key part of her strategy aimed at engaging college students. The rally bussed college students from seventeen Chicago-area campuses to the Richard J. Daley Center for a rally followed by early voting. It went poorly. Despite having been advertised to appear, Chance the Rapper bailed the day of. Despite heavy advance advertising of the event on college campuses, only roughly forty people showed up to the rally. Ultimately, youth turnout in the election was low.
As press scrutiny of Eniya increased towards February, bad press began to arise. At the start of February the Chicago Tribune reported that in 2018, Enyia had failed to report a third of her income, including the $21,000 she received or her work on Christopher G. Kennedy’s gubernatorial campaign. In mid-February, the Tribune reported that Eniya had allegedly failed to pay a former campaign spokesperson $24,000 for four month of work.
In the election on February 26, 2019, Enyia placed sixth in a field of 14 candidates, winning about 8% of the vote.
Enyia opted against endorsing either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle in the runoff, arguing that neither of the two candidates were truly "progressive".
In July 2019, Enyia's campaign was sued by 24 former campaign staffers alleging wage theft. Enyia's campaign responded by saying that the campaign was in debt, and that it planned to continue holding fundraisers to pay off the debt and unpaid wages.
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