Chicago Mayoral Candidate Amara Enyia on Kanye West & Chance the Rapper Bringing 'Optimism' to Her Campaign


Amara Enyia, a self-described activist whose mother and father emigrated from Nigeria, introduced her candidacy for mayor of Chicago final month, becoming a member of a crowded race that features not less than 15 different candidates, together with key figures within the Chicago political spectrum.

It’s not the primary time Enyia, director of Austin’s Chamber of Commerce, has run for political workplace. Back in 2015, she additionally ran for mayor however dropped out early on within the race. “We began with no identify recognition as a result of I hadn’t been in public workplace earlier than and never even in public life actually,” Enyia tells Billboard.

This time round, it’s fairly the alternative. With the assist of Chicago natives and music stars Chance the Rapper and Kanye West, who’ve formally endorsed the West Side resident, Enyia needs one other probability at changing into the subsequent mayor of Chicago.   

Both Chance and West have appeared at Enyia’s "pull up" rallies all through the town of Chicago previously weeks.

“If you’re prepared to see what this metropolis might be, you’ll vote for Amara,” Chance mentioned at Enyia’s candidacy announcement on Oct. 16.

While West hasn’t been vocal about his assist, he’s donated a complete of $200,000 to Enyia’s marketing campaign, even after tweeting he was “distancing himself from politics” following a gathering with President Trump on the White House and stories of his involvement in conservative commentator Candace Owens' "Blexit" marketing campaign.

“I’m very grateful and welcoming of Chance and Kanye’s involvement,” Enyia says, whereas including that the musicians carry “optimism” to her mayoral run.

But first issues first: To be capable to exchange present mayor Rahm Emanuel, Enyia nonetheless wants to gather sufficient signatures for her identify to really be on the poll for the Feb. 26 elections in Chicago. The deadline to file the signatures is Nov. 26.

In an interview with Billboard, the mayoral hopeful talks about her imaginative and prescient for Chicago and explains what function Chance and Kanye play in her marketing campaign and the general political panorama.

You ran for mayor in 2015. What motivated you to offer it one other shot?

It was my first time operating for workplace in 2015 and there have been a number of onerous classes discovered then. But I all the time mentioned that the one method I’d run once more is that if I had that very same stage of conviction about what wanted to occur in Chicago, what might be executed and what might be modified in that specific workplace. And so, that’s why I’m operating once more.

How are you totally different from the opposite candidates who need to be mayor of Chicago?

I’m in all probability the one candidate who has each the highest authorities stage expertise however nonetheless deeply linked to the group and to the grassroots. That’s fairly distinctive. What it means is that I’m in a position to interact within the coverage house for the town however my coverage is knowledgeable by being linked to what’s occurring in folks’s day-to-day lives. We’re in an setting the place folks need to see themselves within the individuals who symbolize them and never just a few disconnected one that is making selections for them however somebody who they’ll relate to.

It’s clear that like Chance and Kanye, you like Chicago. What are different shared commonalities you have got with these music stars?

The widespread thread between the three of us is a imaginative and prescient for Chicago. What was refreshing about each Chance and Kanye is that they’ll truly envision what we will do to make this metropolis even higher. To have movie star endorsements is nice however once they’re substantive, even higher. Chance particularly has demonstrated his dedication to Chicago in some tangible methods. On lots of the similar points we’ve organized in the identical areas though we hadn't met formally. For instance, he has been a part of the schooling fairness efforts and donated 1,000,000 to CPS. I used to be organizing for the psychological well being motion years in the past once they have been closing psychological well being clinics and he lately donated to increase psychological well being sources in Chicago. So, these are tangible steps which have been taken that present what he’s dedicated to.

And with Kanye, it’s the identical. He’s from Chicago, he grew up right here and he sees how we will truly transfer the economic system. What does it appear like to create job? what does it appear like to handle this problem of homelessness? He has these massive concepts and for me, when anybody demonstrates an curiosity in serving to their hometown, we must always take note of that.

How have been these preliminary conversations with Kanye and Chance? What was your response while you heard Kanye needed to talk with you?

Actually, he known as me immediately. It was kind of out of the blue with Kanye particularly. He known as and mentioned, “that is Kanye West,” and I used to be like “oh.” He needed to FaceTime me as a result of he needed me to know that it was truly him and never a prank. But, I took his phrase for it and advised him that we might speak over the telephone. This was when he was speaking about shifting again to the Chicago space and he mentioned that my identify saved arising in several conversations due to my work and what I used to be doing. So, he needed to fulfill and discuss Chicago and the way we might transfer the town ahead. It was a very good dialog and that’s the way it all started. When we truly met, it was very refreshing with the ability to speak with somebody who doesn’t have these limitations about what we will do within the metropolis. It was extremely refreshing with the ability to speak to somebody who’s a creator and there aren’t any limitations about what he can envision and create.

Chance, however, mentioned he had been a fan of mine for a very long time and that he rocks with me and desires to speak in regards to the imaginative and prescient for Chicago. I had been a fan of his from afar as effectively and after we met, we simply clicked.

What function do these musicians have in your marketing campaign?

Our marketing campaign is basically about increasing the citizens. It’s our duty to guarantee that not solely the seemingly voters come out to vote however the individuals who have by no means had religion within the course of. Chance and Kanye attain an viewers that historically has not been as engaged. There’s an optimism that they carry. Both of them have come out of the humanities group and so we’ve talked about methods to increase entry to artwork packages. We’ve talked about what it appears to be like like for everybody within the Chicago Public Schools district to have entry to packages that enrich the standard of the academic expertise. I do know in Kanye’s case, he’s talked about bringing his factories right here to really manufacture his merchandise in Chicago, that’s big from an financial improvement perspective but in addition it reveals what investing regionally can do to bolster employment and to bolster the financial setting within the metropolis.

Has having movie star endorsements introduced any kind of criticism to your marketing campaign or pushback from opponents or supporters? Particularly your relationship with Kanye due to his latest controversial visits to the White House to fulfill with President Donald Trump.

I positively had a dialog about it with Kanye. We talked about my platform and his views because it pertains to the president. He made it very clear to me in our dialog that he doesn’t assist the president's views or insurance policies, what he helps is the concept that we ought to be prepared to have interaction everybody in dialogue. That we must always all the time preserve strains of communication open and alternatives for understanding individuals who may need totally different beliefs and totally different views from us. And I can get with that. The different factor is that he has been very supportive of our platform. We talked about all the massive platform points because it pertains to the economic system, schooling, housing in Chicago and he mentioned that he believes our platform is the one platform that’s proper for Chicago, for who we’re and who we may be as a metropolis.

Do you suppose musicians ought to be concerned in politics or elevate their voice relating to politics?

I feel that artists are the lifeblood of any motion and so I feel even within the political house there’s a function for artists to play. For them to carry extra folks into the method or an occasion to get folks to concentrate is totally essential. If Chance is the rationale why you’re taking note of these elections, nice! If Kanye is the rationale why you’re taking note of what’s occurring in Chicago, improbable! Whatever it takes to get them there. Many folks didn’t get entangled in politics till we had our present president. And that’s what it took for them to be shaken and turn out to be lively. Chance and Kanye’s presence within the marketing campaign has opened up the mayoral elections to a complete new style of people that had not been engaged earlier than.

What are some points you need to deal with as mayor of Chicago?

The actuality of Chicago is that rich and extra prosperous communities have benefited and, sadly, it’s occurred on the expense of extra challenged communities who’ve largely been ignored, ignored or just pushed apart relating to selections about how sources are allotted and the way our strategy to schooling is. Without having a lens of fairness, you’ll be able to’t make coverage that’s truly helpful or not less than that doesn’t hurt these very folks. We’re bringing an fairness lens to decision-making and we’re additionally bringing the group’s voice into decision-making — which is quite a bit totally different than simply together with voices of those that are politically-connected or those that have the cash to purchase political clout.

What do folks exterior of Chicago nonetheless don’t perceive in regards to the metropolis?

It’s a really advanced metropolis. The method issues are so entrenched that it stifles a number of innovation, which is unlucky as a result of it’s such a beautiful metropolis. That’s why these elections are so essential as a result of we’re breaking away from that. We had 22 years of incumbent Richard M. Daley, then we’ve had six years beneath the present mayor who got here out of the White House so he had the glitz and glamour of the Obama administration. The dynamics are utterly totally different now. This is the primary time that we’ve got an open area and in the event you see how issues are taking part in out, you’ll see that it’s virtually like a verdict of the town’s previous and the town’s future.