Rahm Emanuel has challenger Young tech guy who gives a sht
Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks with Neal Sales-Griffin of Code Academy before a news conference at 1871, a space for digital startup compaines, in 2012. File Photo. I Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
A young tech entrepreneur from the South Side quietly has begun organizing a bid to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel in next year’s election.
You may be hearing of Neal Sales-Griffin for the first time now, but he’s been reaching out to political players for several months now, seeking their support in the 2019 mayoral race.
Sales-Griffin, 30, filed the paperwork to form a campaign fundraising committee on Nov. 27 and stated his intent to run for mayor at that time, records show.
Neal Sales-Griffin in 2012. File Photo. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Some other would-be mayoral challengers — including former schools CEO Paul Vallas and Emanuel’s former top cop Garry McCarthy — have been content to float trial balloons and criticize Emanuel in the press, without announcing whether they will run after all.
Sales-Griffin has preferred to fly under the media radar until now. Only on Friday — and only after a Chicago Sun-Times reporter contacted him — did Sales-Griffin make his first public comments on the campaign.
He confirmed he intends to run in the February 2019 election.
“There are a lot of people who want to see something different,” Sales-Griffin said. “They’re fed up with what’s going on.”
Sales-Griffin grew up in Hyde Park and Kenwood. His father is African-American, and his mother’s roots are in Honduras and the Philippines, he said.
After graduating from Mount Carmel High School and Northwestern University, Sales-Griffin started a computer coding boot camp, The Starter League. He sold the company in 2016, and now he is CEO of CodeNow, a nonprofit group that helps teach coding to schoolchildren.
The sale of his company, he said, “was a very modest deal,” and he doesn’t have the ability to personally finance a multi-million-dollar campaign for mayor.
“I’m good,” he said. “We can eat. I can take care of my family. But I’m not self-funding my campaign. I’m not a billionaire or a millionaire.”
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