Salas to challenge Rep. Gutiérrez in 2016

Photo courtesy of Armando Silva
Photo courtesy of Armando Silva

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] Spanish newscaster plans to challenge incumbent Rep. Luis Gutiérrez in next year’s race for the 4th Congressional District of Illinois.

“We always stick to one issue, immigration, and even though I have been a big voice in the immigrant movement, we shouldn’t just focus on one issue,” says Javier Salas. “People need a lot of things…and we need someone who is talking to people in the district and not traveling around the country.”

Salas, a broadcaster whose career has spanned 15 years in the Chicagoland area, filed his statement of candidacy last week. Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Salas immigrated to the United States at 26 and worked factory and restaurant jobs while finishing his ELS degree. While working on his degree Salas juggled overnight shifts at radio stations while trying to land a full-time day slot. He currently writes a weekly column for Hoy, is a commentator on Hoy Noticias MundoFox 13, and is a newscaster with Lay Ley Radio.

In addition to his broadcasting career, Salas was also a senior policy advisor for former Gov. Pat Quinn from 2013 to January of this year. In that capacity his responsibilities included coordinating opportunities for direct dialogue between Quinn’s office and the Latino residents of Illinois and advising the best ways to implement plans and programs like affordable healthcare care, bilingual education, and after school programs.

The 4th Congressional District of Illinois includes part of Cook County and has been represented by Gutiérrez since 1993. Born in Chicago, Gutiérrez later moved to Puerto Rico before returning to Chicago to attend college at Northeastern Illinois University. He worked as a teacher, social worker, cab driver, community activist and city official until his election in 1986 as alderman from the city’s 26th ward.

The 4th District is considered one of the most gerrymandered in the country. It covers two strips, running east-west across Chicago on the west side, and cuts into smaller portions of some suburban areas in Cook County, surrounding Illinois’ 7th Congressional District. The northern portion of the 4th District is largely Puerto Rican while the southern portion is heavily Mexican according to census data.

“You put your body, your soul, your family out there when you run,” says Salas. “I know I’m going to be against the machine, but I need to do this to show the way for my people, to fight for their rights.”

Salas’s campaign is expected to host a kickoff event sometime in August.

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