Mayoral hopeful Amara Enyia began navigating the political waves around her latest celebrity support from Kanye West on Tuesday, emphasizing the entertainment star’s agreement with her on key issues facing Chicago over his enthusiastic support for Republican President Donald Trump
West, who gave Enyia $73,540 toward her campaign fund Monday, appeared at a rally with her and Chance the Rapper in Woodlawn Tuesday, but did not speak. West’s donation, which Enyia used to pay off a fine in the exact amount that she faced with state election officials, came on the heels of Chance’s high-profile City Hall endorsement of the West Side community organizer and activist last week.
Chance’s advocacy for Chicago — and his two $1 million contributions to Chicago Public Schools and the expansion of mental health access — and his support for Enyia’s campaign represented a more simple embrace for the 35-year-old candidate. With West, things are more complicated.
The famous hip-hop artist and designer who enjoys a worldwide recognition and 24 million Twitter followers has been a visible booster for Trump, a divisive politician reviled in many corners of deep blue Chicago. West also has made controversial statements describing slavery as a “choice” and pushing for abolishing the 13th amendment, which outlawed slavery. West later apologized for and clarified the remarks, but they created a political stir nonetheless.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune Tuesday, Enyia said West’s support came after a telephone conversation she had with him last month, a wide-ranging discussion in which she said it became clear that the entertainer embraced her advocacy for police reform, opposition to stop and frisk police practices, push for more mental health clinics and creating more economic investment in the city’s most struggling neighborhoods.
“Celebrity endorsements are great, but in my view they have to be tied to something of substance. In Chance’s case, he donated $1 million to CPS, donated $1 million to help mental health expansion,” Enyia said. “And the specific conversation was warranted with Kanye, to make sure there was alignment on the policy platform and issues I’ve advocated for. So, we definitely had a conversation, and when we talk about what Chicago needs and what it will take to get us there, he sees this campaign as a vital part of that and that is what prompted him to support us and get over this financial barrier we have had.”
That barrier was the more than $73,000 in fines Enyia faced from state election officials for failing to file years worth of quarterly campaign finance reports in connection with her brief 2015 campaign for mayor. Enyia dropped her bid after her signatures needed to get on the ballot were challenged, but she never closed her campaign account while failing to file the reports. State officials said the fines had to be paid by December in order for her to appear on the February ballot.
Enyia said after her “out of the blue” phone conversation initiated by West last month, the rapper followed up with text messages after the endorsement of Chance, the 25-year-old star rapper who was born Chancelor Bennett. Enyia said West texted her while traveling in Uganda and the campaign check arrived shortly after he returned to Chicago.
“It was, ‘how can we take away any barriers to you getting on the ballot?’ We know that you have a platform, we know you have people, but that was a barrier that stuck out because it was just hanging there,” Enyia said. “Kanye saw that as, ‘if we don’t get this out of the way, then nothing else matters, so let’s get this out of the way and then we can figure out how we’re going to do everything else with getting more resources, getting more visibility, etc.’ So, I think it was low-hanging fruit for him.”
How, though, will Enyia deal with the Trump dynamic? “We approach it first by being very transparent and unequivocal on where I stand on issues,” she replied, noting she rejects many of Trump’s positions, including on immigration and policing.
Enyia also sought to thread a needle by defending some of West’s involvement with Trump, noting that the rapper has been careful not to address specific policies from the president.
“We talked about the Trump factor, and he made it very clear that he doesn’t necessarily support Trump’s policies, some of the more controversial policies, but what he was interested in is for the ability for people to disagree and have dialogue about it,” Enyia said of West. “Now, I have some very strong feelings about Trump and some specific policies coming out of the administration. He believes there always has to be room for dialogue and people should be able to have a conversation and at least be aware of other points of view. That’s fine.”
There is a difference between favoring an open dialogue and hugging the president in the Oval Office while wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, which West did earlier this month in a Washington meeting with Trump. The association makes for an easy attack ad or mailer down the road should Enyia’s campaign emerge as a threat to candidates, who so far enjoy better name recognition and funding, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, former police superintendent Garry McCarthy, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and 2011 candidate and attorney Gery Chico, among others.
Enyia is the director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce on the West Side and has run her own policy consulting firm, where she has done work largely in the south suburbs. She also has been visible in Chicago’s activist community for years, including during demonstrations tied to Chicago school closings, the Laquan McDonald police shooting and opposition to a new West Side police academy.
That track record, she said, is what she’ll lean on if opponents try to tie her to Trump because of West’s support.
“The attacks will come, because this is Chicago, but I believe in the truth. I believe in a track record,” Enyia said. “And I believe the people who I have worked with and organized with will speak up on our behalf. And because of how things are lining up, not only will we have the network of people locally and nationally, we will have the resources to get our message out.”
The effort to get her message out continued Tuesday with Enyia scheduled to appear in Woodlawn with Chance, where the two planned to draw attention to gentrification and potential displacement tied to redevelopment and plans for the Obama Presidential Center in the neighborhood. West made a surprise appearance at the rally.
Enyia favors a so-called community benefits agreement that would guarantee certain protections for existing neighborhood residents, a provision that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Obama’s foundation have rejected.
Enyia has dubbed such community events a “pull-up” and she plans many more of them as she embarks on the dual goals of attracting attention to her campaign positions while gathering the necessary signatures to get on the ballot this time.
“We believe our responsibility is to expand the electorate. We don’t want to just focus on the 30 percent of registered voters. There is a universe of 70 percent of the people who are looking for something to get them involved,” Enyia said. “So, this is one of those very visible ways of engaging people where they are, getting a message out, speaking about our vision for Chicago and at the same time collecting the signatures we need to get on the ballot.”
Courts,Region: AH,Region: Suburbs
via Crime – Glenview Announcements https://ift.tt/1LjWzdx
October 23, 2018 at 02:36PM