Neal Sales-Griffin Wants To Apply Tech Skills To Mayor’s Office
Tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin is one of the many candidates who say they want to run against incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2019 election.
Despite a rocky start during his campaign announcement over the weekend, Sales-Griffin continues to move forward with his bid for the mayor’s office. He spoke with Morning Shift about his goals addressing a wide range of issues facing Chicago, including term limits, campaign finance reform, and rebuilding trust at City Hall.
Here you can find Morning Shift’s interviews with the other candidates (so far) who have said they intend to run for mayor.
Sales-Griffin is a Northwestern University graduate who’s currently the CEO of Code Now, a non-profit that teaches coding to school children. Here are some interview highlights
On what sparked his interest to run for mayor
Neal Sales-Griffin: I have a huge family — 15 aunts and uncles who grew up on the South Side of Chicago. ... With over 100 family members growing up in Chicago, so many of them have moved away. The reason they’ve left is because Chicago wasn’t working well enough for them.
They leave because their kids don’t get access to the best schools. They leave because they don’t feel safe. And they leave because there are better job opportunities and they get most of their dollar elsewhere. I wanted to change that. I wanted to be a part of that difference.
Sales-Griffin plans to tackle Chicago’s systemic issues first
Sales-Griffin: Every campaign cycle [politicians] are going to talk about all the important issues that people want to be solved. But if you don’t deal with the fact that we can’t trust our politicians right now, that we have a trust deficit in Chicago, that there’s a lack of faith in government — because it functions more like a kingdom and not a democracy, because they hold onto their positions for too long, because there is unlimited terms, unlimited campaign contributions — that’s just not OK. ...
There’s a lot we can do to solve our neighborhood school problem. There’s a lot we can do to address safety and issues with the police. But if we don’t first address the systemic problems with our government, then we’re not going to be able to make progress.
On campaign funding for the race
Sales-Griffin: I’ll raise what I need so I can effectively implement things like campaign finance reform. That’s the kind of stuff we need in Chicago because of unlimited contributions. This is the problem people. Here we are saying we want change, but having a system that’s in place that allows our politicians to stay in power forever and raise unlimited amount of money, that’s not OK with me.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview, which was adapted for the web by Bea Aldrich.