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Meet Amara Enyia, The Community Organizer Who Plans To Challenge Mayor Emanuel In 2015

By Jon Graef in News on Feb 23, 2014 8:00PM

In These Times' Kari Lydersen recently sat down for a Q&A session with community organizer and municipal consultant Amara Enyia, a Nigerian-American Chicagoan who plans on challenging Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2015 mayoral election.

The 30-year-old Enyia, who has a law degree and a doctorate in educational police studies from the University of Chicago Illinois (!!!), has done community work in Chicago's Austin neighborhood. She also did a fellowship in Mayor Richard M. Daley's office, and now does municipal consulting though her firm, ACE Municipal Partners.

All in all, a deeply impressive progressive résumé, which, sadly, means Enyia likely has a snowball's chance in hell of unseating the mayor. Still, the interview is well worth a read, and there are several quotes in it that rung true with us (and Chicagoans of all stripes, we hope.)

Amongst those are:

  • On the differences between Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley: "One thing Daley understood was how to leverage relationships. He would engage with people whether he liked them or not. With Daley, for better or worse, you knew deep down he really loved the city—it was in his blood. Under this administration, there’s no understanding of the importance of relationships. There’s a sense of indifference. Rahm wants to be mayor of Chicago, but that doesn’t translate into caring about the city as a whole."

  • On Chicago's preference for a "tough-guy" mayor: "I don’t agree that [Chicagoans] want a tough-guy mayor who’s going to curse you out. I think we’ve had enough of that. We want a mayor who inspires people, not one who instills fear in people. I think people are ready for a change—for leadership that shares their values of integrity in transparency and equity."

  • On school closings: "If [you’re] going to close 50 schools, just tell the community you’re going to close 50 schools because you can’t afford to keep them open. People will be angry, but they will appreciate the fact you told them straight out—you didn’t try to come up with all these different false misleading reasons to justify it. "

Naturally, there's much more, including Enyia directly addressing the question of whether or not she can actually win. Read the interview in its entirety here.