Meet Amara Enyia, the 30-Year-Old Community Organizer Who Could Beat Rahm Emanuel

Amara Enyia
Amara Enyia

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s approval rating has been declining for months, but people aren’t exactly lining up around the block to run him out of his fifth-floor City Hall office.

And why would they? Emanuel has more name recognition than perhaps any other U.S. mayor at the moment, not to mention a reputation for intimidating political rivals and an overflowing campaign war chest.

As Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg wrote in an Esquire profile of Emanuel published in February, “the common wisdom is that nobody of any heft will run against Rahm when he’s up again. Not in 2015. Maybe not ever.”

None of that dissuades Amara Enyia, a 30-year-old community organizer who told The Huffington Post she has “every intention of winning” Chicago’s mayoral election in February. If elected, the Democrat would be the city’s first black female mayor — and its second female mayor. Thus far, only one other challenger to the mayor —former alderman Robert Shaw — has emerged.

“People are ready for change in this city and I believe that wholeheartedly,” Enyia, a resident of the city’s Tri-Taylor neighborhood, said. “The change is going to happen and I don’t think there is anything in the world that can stop it from happening.

“This is not a campaign to make a point,” she added. “This is a campaign to win.”

Enyia’s confidence takes root in a resume loaded far beyond that of most people her age, though it does not include elected office.

Born to Nigerian immigrants in Baltimore and raised in Chicago’s south suburbs, Enyia earned both a law degree and a PhD in education policy from the University of Illinois before she moved to Chicago to work on a fellowship in the policy department of the mayor’s office during the end of Richard M. Daley’s administration. Her last day working on the fellowship was May 13, 2011 — the same day Daley left his City Hall office.

Her experience in City Hall, she said, opened her eyes to what she described as “a very clear disconnect between those making policy and those impacted by it.”

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Source: Black Voices | Joseph Erbentraut –

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