Neal Sáles-Griffin walks into the Chicago Defender architecture with an optimistic bounce, accidentally dressed cutting a “Made In A Chicago Hood” jacket, and consistently aflame a arresting smile. You get the faculty that he holds accent but cannot clear why. The 31-year-old tech administrator believes he has what it takes to become Chicago’s aing mayor, admitting a acreage that boasts abounding of the city’s political elite.
“Where has that gotten us? Area accept all these accomplished and acclimatized politicians gotten us? asks Sáles-Griffin. “We got added of them. Okay? Great.”
As one of the youngest mayoral candidates, Sales-Griffin says he represents “change,” “innovation,” “youth,” “energy,” and “integrity;” his resume leaves little allowance for agnosticism that he is lying. Aback the Mt. Carmel High Academy cornerback’s NFL dreams paused due to injury, he redirected his focus on a approaching abroad from sports.
He accelerating from Northwestern University with a Learning and Organizational Change bulk while alive as Associated Student Government President. At the age of 21, Sáles-Griffin served as the arch operating administrator for Flawless Cuts Barbershop, managing two locations on the South Side of Chicago. He accomplished himself how to cipher software arch to co-founding the aboriginal anytime coding cossack camp, creating a adapt that afflicted a civic millennial coding movement; Sáles-Griffin was 24 years old.
“When I aboriginal got my alpha accomplishing programming and computer science, I congenital a carbon of Twitter,” says Sáles-Griffin. “This was 8 years ago. Anyone who is interested, or wants to apprentice how to body software, the aboriginal affair I accept them do is body the aboriginal Twitter app. ”
Although his all-encompassing resume is abounding of administration positions and reads anarchistic for a political candidate, the simple accuracy is that abounding voters are alien with Sáles-Griffin’s backstory.
Who is this confident, adolescent Black man active for mayor?
He is Afro-Latino, authoritative him the aboriginal and alone Black and Latino applicant advancing the mayoral seat. “My Grandfather is Filipino. My Grandmother is bisected Mexican and bisected Honduran. She immigrated from Honduras to Bronzeville in Chicago aback she was 12 years old,” capacity Sáles-Griffin in a alone blogged Medium post. “She aloft my Mother and her seven brothers and sisters in Englewood and Roseland. They had a boxy time growing up in mostly Black neighborhoods. They struggled with their identities as Latino South Siders.”
Sáles-Griffin’s benevolent ancestors provides abundant contrast. His father, Anthony Griffin, is a Black man who accomplished Jim Crow racism. He remembers his ancestor would acquaint him “… belief growing up actuality alleged n*gger activity bottomward the street.” Anthony Griffin served as a Chicago Police administrator for 30 years while Linda Sáles, his mother, formed in CPS for 17 years.
Like abounding in Chicago, Sáles-Griffin is a artefact of lower-middle-class beginnings. “At the age of 5, I was active with my dad – who was a cop. My mom was aggravating to get aback into work,” Sáles-Griffin explains. “She formed at Michael Reese hospital, but again she absitively to assignment at CPS as a appropriate apprenticeship teaching abettor at Ray Elementary.”
Sáles-Griffin says his accomplishments informs his political positions as able-bodied as his accommodation to run for office. He claims to access anniversary of the city’s issues on their own terms, rather than relying on ascendant ideologies such as “liberal” or “conservative.”
However, he does accept political ties. Sáles-Griffin beneath an allurement to assignment on then-President Obama’s 2012 attack as a activity administrator and autonomous to body a coding academy with his acquaintance Mike McGee. He alone knows J.B. Pritzker and appropriately alien the gubernatorial applicant at the Pritzker attack launch. He alike had an hourlong chat with Ambassador Rahm Emanuel a anniversary afore the ambassador absitively not to run re-election.
Yet Sáles-Griffin holds firms that he represents a adventurous new change and not the acceptable Chicago Democrat flashback. In fact, he speaks adjoin the Democratic apparatus and the bulk of money in accepted political campaigns. Sáles-Griffin asserts, “I’m not absorbed in bound or incremental progress. Right now, administration of the Chicago apparatus from addition traditionally-experienced political accessible is not what is best for the city. ”
Sáles-Griffin thinks Chicago’s apparatus backroom has acquired the burghal to move at a snail’s clip acclamation the socioeconomic plight burdening the South and West sides. According to him, this apathetic drive stagnates people’s affliction and advance in Chicago’s politics, arch to poor aborigine turnout. He believes acceptance charge be adequate into abeyant voters rather than vote-shaming –– the tactic of blaming non-voters for non-participation.
“Most of us are disconnected,” laments Sáles-Griffin. “We accept over 70 percent of us who are old abundant to vote but don’t. It’s not aloof about voting. I’m not for vote shaming. I absolutely abhor that there is this access area bodies are told that they are bad or amiss for not [voting]. I anticipate it’s added important to accept why they should accept a acumen and authoritative abiding bodies are affiliated to that. ”
On the issues, Sáles-Griffin is appreciably a Democratic progressive, advancement amusing amends and ambitious accepted bloom care. His belvedere priorities listed on his website (nealformayor.com) are affordable housing, accessible safety, government accountability, and education. If elected, he says he will accouterment the city’s account on his aboriginal day to accomplish abiding Chicago’s $22 Billion is activity area it’s needed.
Neal Sáles-Griffin wants voters to admit that he is a approved 31-year-old Chicagoan who enjoys alert to Lil’ Wayne (He awful advancing the artist’s long-awaited “The Carter 5” album) and is accommodating to go through abundant lengths to achieve systemic changes. He asks not to be labeled.
As he so eloquently puts it:
“I don’t fit into any boxes. I’m aloof a guy who gives a sh*t.”
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