One candidate running in Chicago’s crowded mayoral race next year has some notable ties to Will County.
Amara Enyia, 35, is an activist, attorney and public policy expert who made headlines for receiving the support of Chicago natives Chance the Rapper and Kanye West in a deep field of candidates to become the next mayor of the third-largest city in the country.
Enyia’s father, Samuel Enyia, was the longtime broadcast program director at Lewis University in Romeoville, and now teaches there part time. He originally is from Nigeria and moved to Illinois to attend graduate school at Wheaton College in 1975.
He said his daughter was exposed to his own political activism while she was growing up. The elder Enyia led an advocacy group of Nigerian-Chicagoans, which grew to become a national organization trying to fight a military dictatorship in their home country. Amara Enyia is one of six children and grew up in Will County. She attended Crete-Monee High School, where she played soccer and was a dedicated student, Samuel Enyia said. He taught at Governor’s State University at the time.
“She was really active and diligent,” Enyia’s father said.
When Enyia came to her parents to tell them she was running for mayor of Chicago, her father admitted he was a little unsettled, but when they saw her determination, they were all in for supporting her.
“I think she’s capable, courageous and bold,” her father said. “I think she has what it takes to bring changes and reform to Chicago for everybody, particularly for those in need.”
Enyia attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study journalism and political science, and went on to earn a number of graduate degrees, including a master’s in education, a law degree and a doctorate in educational policy studies. Her father also was a prolific student, as he earned multiple graduate degrees in communication and education from Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University.
Enyia also has written on various policy areas, including economic development, public finance, housing, education, food security, environmental policy and community development, according to her LinkedIn page. And she’s worked as a political consultant and strategist.
Enyia is up against some major competition in the race, including another candidate with ties to Will County. Susana Mendoza, who graduated from Bolingbrook High School, announced her candidacy after she won re-election as Illinois comptroller last month. Mendoza and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are among the favorites to replace outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.