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Second Mayoral Candidate Steps Forward

Amara Enyia is a Chicago mayoral candidate.
Amara Enyia is a Chicago mayoral candidate.Amara Enyia

So far the 2015 city elections have attracted two black candidates to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Former South Side alderman Robert Shaw announced his candidacy March 3 and previously business owner Amara Enyia announced her candidacy.

But regardless who wins next year both candidates said as long as Emanuel is not re-elected Chicago voters will come out winners.

“Census data shows that we lost almost a quarter million Chicago residents,” said Eynia. “And as long as we ignore neighborhoods we will continue to lose residents.”

The Near West Side resident added that, “Chicago needs new leadership.”

As the founder and CEO of ACE Municipal Partners LLC, a Chicago-based consulting firm, Enyia said she knows the inner workings of government especially City Hall where she worked as a fellow from 2009 to 2011 under Mayor Richard M. Daley.

One thing Enyia said she would change if elected the city’s first black female mayor is how Chicago School Board members are chosen.

“I am all for an elected school board. And, let me say, CPS (Chicago Public Schools) needs to go in a different direction,” she said.

And Enyia said she would not retain Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

The single 31-year-old cites a lack of economic investment, education and public safety as the three biggest challenges facing the city.

“There are many more but those three need immediate attention, which it would get if I am elected mayor,” explained Enyia. “Restructuring the way Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is doled out is one way to better use tax dollars. TIF money is supposed to help spur economic development in blighted communities, but too much of our TIF dollars have gone to big corporations instead.”

The community organizer said she aims to ensure the best-equipped schools and the best-trained teachers are available in every neighborhood.

“At a time when schools need more resources targeted strategically to improve performance and enrich our children’s lives, the current mayor diminishes the very institution of public education,” she said.

The astute business owner earned a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science from the University of Illinois in Champaign as well as a master’s in Education, a Ph.D. in Educational Policies and a law degree.

For his part, Emanuel said he welcomes everyone into the race.

“I believe in bringing a level of reform and change every day to deliver better services to the people of Chicago so they can live in a world-class city,” Emanuel said. “Other people may be able to provide their own ideas, but one thing I will guarantee you is that we’re not going back. We’re going to go forward, with an agenda of reform and change.”

Besides Enyia, former ninth ward alderman Robert Shaw also announced his candidacy.

Shaw, who lives in the Kenwood neighborhood, said he is the “strongest possible black candidate to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

And much like Enyia, Shaw would make changes to CPS.

“I am dissatisfied with Barbara Byrd-Bennett closing all those schools. My plan is to look at how we can restructure TIF funds to see if it could be used to offset the school’s budget deficit,” explained Shaw. “And I definitely would be seeking an elected school board.”

On the issue of crime, Shaw said the jury was still out on Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.
“Maybe by the time I am elected he would have solved all the murders in Chicago,” Shaw said. “But we'll have to wait and see how things stand a year from now.”