Community / News / January 14, 2009

Mayoral candidate speaks to students at the Center

An everyday family man has a reason behind his drive to be mayor. With the elections coming up in April, he has plenty of changes he wants to see in the Galesburg community. One of his main concerns is that Galesburg is becoming a fragmented community, both racially and economically.

His family moved from Mexico at a young age to Chicago and then to Galesburg where he learned to speak English. His mother only completed sixth grade and his father never made it past third. As Sal Garza said, “we all have our own references and starting points,” and his was to start a family in Galesburg after being the first in his family to graduate high school. While attending high school here in Galesburg, he said the expectations were very different than today’s. Then, if you were lucky, you could get a job in one of the factories, and you were really lucky if you made it through without losing a limb. Thus began his work with Maytag. He was the only Hispanic man to be in a higher position, chief engineer, rather than working on the basic level.

Garza feels that Galesburg needs to change their way of thinking about large corporations that want to build here. He thinks that the community is drifting apart and soon with such a division, there will be even more violence and poverty than before. When speaking about Knox he said that, Galesburg is, “missing a golden opportunity” by not trying to include Knox College in the community. While Carl Sandberg College has a stride on Knox because it draws people from around region, it can’t compare to Knox College for cultural diversity. According to Garza, “Knox is the economic driver for this community”, and Galesburg needs to recognize it.

Garza’s unique views on culture and on the issue of poverty and violence in the Galesburg community make him a more than competent candidate for mayor. There is one thing that’s for sure, if Garza does make it to be the next Mayor, Galesburg had better be ready for some changes both culturally and economically.

Liz Thomas

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