Editor’s note: This story is the third in a series featuring candidates for Cook County’s 5th District, which includes Flossmoor.
As far as Jaylin D. McClinton is concerned: It’s time for a change.
McClinton has seen Cook County’s 5th District represented by the same person for his entire life. When Commissioner Deborah Sims announced her retirement, he saw the other emerging candidates for the open seat as “more of the same and politics of the past.” So, McClinton, a 28-year-old, lifelong resident of Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, decided to run.
“For me it was an opportunity to usher in a new way of thinking, a fresh face, a new voice and a new perspective,” McClinton said. “We need leaders in office who are going to show up to every single aspect and portion of this district in a way that really lives up to the public service values that I personally subscribe to and believe in.”
McClinton, a graduate of Curie Metropolitan High School, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in African-American studies and political science, with a concentration in pre-law, at the University of Illinois. He completed law school this May at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology. As a lawyer, he hopes to focus on plaintiff-side consumer protection, making sure people’s privacy rights are not infringed upon.
Though he has never served in an elected position (other than a student position on the Board of Trustees at U. of I.), McClinton is no stranger to politics. He worked as a White House intern during President Barack Obama’s administration. He was chief of staff to then-State Rep. Juliana Stratton and worked as a community organizer for the Obama Foundation.
McClinton sees the District 5 seat as an opportunity to have a true say in things that will impact people’s lives in a unique region. He wants to help create progressive policy that works for everyday people.
“I think there is a unique opportunity to usher in good government that is desperately needed in this region,” McClinton said. “We just can’t afford to accept the politics of the past any longer.”
McClinton said he thinks he is best suited as a community organizer and soon-to-be lawyer to bring a young, energetic approach to the job.
“We’re not going to solve the problems of today with the same kind of solutions that have already been offered,” McClinton said. “I represent a new way of doing things in this region.”
McClinton said health care is a huge priority, especially in the midst of a pandemic. He wants to continue encouraging vaccination and boosters. Some people in the district do not have access to clean drinking water, and there is a lack of access to hospitals close to some communities, he added.
In addition to addressing those issues, McClinton said gun violence needs to be treated like the public health crisis it is, while also addressing criminal justice reform.
McClinton said there are a lot of opportunities to bring economic development resources to the region. The aim is growth without pushing families of the 5th District out of their homes, McClinton said. He hopes a recently passed $8 billion county budget can help solve these Southland issues.
“I beg the question: What are we doing with those funds, and how do we make sure the 5th District of Cook County gets its fair share?” McClinton said.
McClinton said the county needs to repurpose houses instead of just boarding them up. He wants to take advantage of green spaces, too. And he looks to accomplish these goals by tapping into the skill sets of the Southland’s own residents, meeting people where they are at to address their needs.
“My bottom line is showing up and being a true advocate for the people of this district,” McClinton said. “I’m not running for anything else. I’m running for Cook County commissioner because I want to show up for people. For far too long, this region of Cook County has gotten the short end of the stick.”
McClinton said while he was born and raised in Roseland, he has family throughout the South Suburbs, so he thinks he has a good handle on the 5th.
“I’m planning to represent the entire district and will show up accordingly,” he said. “I don’t make any promises I don’t intend to keep. I wouldn’t have launched for this position if I didn’t feel like I could actively represent the entire community.”
For more information about McClinton, visit jaylindmcclinton.com.
The General Primary in Illinois is Tuesday, June 28. McClinton is to face off in the District 5 Democratic primary against Vernard L. Alsberry Jr., Kierra Williams and Monica M. Gordon. No Republican candidates have filed to run for the office. District 5 includes Flossmoor.