At a Sunday, Nov. 15, press conference, Amara Enyia announced that she won't run for the seat in Congress currently held by U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th). The announcement comes two months after she filed paperwork to form an exploratory committee that would gauge the feasibility of a run.
Instead, Enyia, a public policy consultant and executive director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, announced that she'll be teaming up with Davis to create a new youth initiative, called the Bridge program, designed to pair local youths with elected officials and community stakeholders who have expertise in various areas, such as education.
"These young people represent the best that we have to offer. They represent the hope of the district, city and the country for that matter," Enyia said. "It's their energy that will make this program succeed. With this initiative and the support of the congressman I know we can do this."
"Helping youths today will create a better future for everyone tomorrow. I want the young people in the seventh district to be future doctors, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, and homeowners," added Davis. "And I want them to do this while remaining in the seventh district like I have done my entire life."
Enyia said she made the decision not to run against Davis after meeting with him and having "a very long conversation" about various ideas the two shared for helping young people.
"As I shared these ideas with him, he embraced everything we talked about. So that is how the Bridge program came about," Enyia said.
The Rev. Walter Jones, a community stakeholder in Austin, attended the press conference and said the program is sorely needed.
"We want to bridge the generational gap and promote a safe and drug-free community by reducing underage drinking, substance abuse and senseless violence," said Jones. "It is imperative that we work together to save our babies. Young people can't be what they don't see. We can't demand certain things from young people if we [adults] are not doing it ourselves."
He added that one way to reduce youth violence is to give young people something to do besides hangout on street corners.
"When young people work they don't have time to hangout on the corner, so let's help them make a legal dollar and give them something positive to do when they are not in school," said Jones.
Davis, who announced in September that he'll be running for reelection, said that he isn't sure when he'll eventually retire, but that Enyia would make an excellent congressional candidate someday.
"There are a lot of good people interested in my congressional seat and I am not sure when I will call it quits," Davis said. "My focus is not on retirement but on continuing the will of the people of the seventh district."
Full disclosure: Amara Enyia is a regular columnist for Austin Weekly News.
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