Media Personality Javier Salas Running for Congress

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

By: Ashmar Mandou

Former journalist and media personality, Javier Salas recently announced his bid to run for the U.S. Congress, representing the Fourth District of Illinois in an attempt to unseat longtime Congressman Luis Gutierrez. For over two decades, Salas has worked tirelessly by bringing salient news to the Latino community, in addition to serving as Senior Policy Adviser to Governor Pat Quinn from 2013-2015. Candidate Javier Salas spoke to Lawndale Newspaper about his candidacy and what he will bring to the table.

Lawndale Newspaper: What was the tipping point for you to run for Congress?
Javier Salas: I’m tired of the inaction, excuses and petty fighting in Congress. We need better schools for our kids, higher wages for working families, more jobs, and we need to finally pass meaningful immigration reform.

As you know, you are running with hope to unseat Congressman Luis Gutierrez for the fourth district. What has you believe you will be able to gain support from a community that has long backed Gutierrez?
I believe that people know in their hearts that the time has come to make a change and have a voice in Washington that will represent them, defend them and bring solutions rather than just “next year” promises. Our communities have been underestimated, deceived and taken for granted for far too long. But people are smart and everybody has a limit and the people of the 4th district are the ones that are most important here. There’s simply been too much inaction in Washington D.C. and we need a congressman with a fresh approach.

How has your background as a journalist helped you in your effort to gain a seat on Congress?
First of all, I am not a journalist, I am a professional communicator that has won the Studs Terkel award, an Emmy, and many more accolades for my ideas but the most important award is the trust and credibility that people have in me. I am a dreamer that worked his way up to an extensive media career based in hard work, opportunity and the will to succeed despite not having documents or a degree. A natural perhaps. I have over 20 years of experience narrating the local, national and international news to my community, debating the ideas, empowering them with information and being active in community efforts such as drivers licenses for undocumented, collecting signatures for the dreamer, fighting –literally- with aldermen to accept my idea of granting a municipal ID for everybody in Chicago (which now appears to be a reality). Does that make me worthy of congress? I think so. The people who work in media feel what people feel. We live it every day: the suffering, the victories, the deceptions, the crime, the happy and the sad moments. Who better than that to work in congress to make things better? You know, my colleagues, Chicago Alderman Milly Santiago and Illinois State Senator Steve Stadelman, from Rockford, are both former TV reporters and are now public officials.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

What issues are closest to your heart? What issues will you fight for?
The most important issues in our district are economic growth i.e. jobs, education, quality of life and immigration. These issues all affect each other so I need to focus on all these issues. I will work closely with both business and labor to develop policies to move our 4th district forward and grow our economy. We have many young people full of hope, and older workers, too, who can’t find a job because the jobs have gone away or they have less and less hours. Also there are those that are ready and willing to work but can’t find a job because they don’t have the education or skills needed in the workplace. I will work in helping create more jobs, and help workers have education and training they need to be successful. I also will support quality public education for all and work for quality immigration reform. The hard working families of the fourth district deserve someone who will fight for them.

You have served as Senior Policy Adviser under Gov. Pat Quinn. What lessons have you taken away working under Quinn that will help you in your campaign?
I will always be grateful to him for the opportunity he gave me to serve. He was a great governor and serving the State of Illinois under his leadership was one of the best experiences in my life. I did it with honor and pride and hope to continue that service in Congress. Working for him taught me to listen and respect the people I serve and support and protect the hard working families of Illinois. He is so missed right now. I am going to plagiarize his favorite phrase “…everybody in and nobody out…” – it was right then and is still right now. It will be the essence of my campaign and I am going to put in practice for my diverse 4th district.

What would you like people to know about who you are and why they should vote for you?
I’ve been a community leader, radio personality, and passionate advocate for working families. As an advisor to Governor Quinn, I recommended best ways to implement plans and programs to benefit hard working families and immigrant communities such as expanded job opportunities, affordable health care, quality education, and expanded school programs. Congress must stop the bitter partisan politics and get to work improving the economy and lifting wages for every day, hard-working families. We need a change and a fresh approach in our Congressman. I’ll bring renewed energy and focus to fight for the issues that matter to your family. Because they matter to my family too.

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