Jim Neal was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1964 and has a rich multiethnic heritage of Black, White and Cherokee. Shortly after his birth, his parents returned to Cincinnati, Ohio where he lived for the next 20 years.
Jim’s first job was a paper route at 8 years old. He was also a boy scout, a member of the chess club and an avid reader. He collected over 10,000 comic books and over 1000 novels, most of which he has read and still has today. At the age of 14, he started working in restaurants half-time while still attending high school.
After high-school, he joined the Air Force and started a family. After the Air Force, finding no jobs in Ohio, like the pioneers of old, he packed up his car and his family and headed west to San Francisco, California. When he arrived, he had no job, no money, and no place to live. He called the local police department to ask for suggestions and they referred him to the Hamilton Family Shelter near Golden Gate Park.
He and his family lived there for six months while he attended the Computer Learning Center in downtown SF, but it was not easy. During the day, many of the shelter’s residents would go out and return at night high on drugs and alcohol. On one such occasion Jim was attacked by another man who in a drunken stupor, thought Jim was telling him to go to bed, when in fact Jim was talking to his children. The man later apologized.
Jim also applied for unemployment and public assistance while in the shelter, but was told by the agency that his family could not get benefits as long as he remained with them, but if he was willing to separate from his family, they could get the temporary assistance he was requesting. Jim refused and instead called a public radio station to tell his story on the air. The next day, the agency called Jim and said his request had been approved.
As soon as Jim finished his classes, the Computer Learning Center helped Jim to secure his first job in California. Although Jim notified the welfare agency that he was now employed and no longer needed or wanted assistance, they still kept sending him checks. Jim tore up and threw the checks away until they stopped coming.
In a few years, Jim obtained jobs with increasing responsibility and started taking classes at Merritt College in Oakland. One of the classes taught him how to build computers and before long, Jim started his own business building and selling computers to supplement his income. However, during that time, prices for hardware varied wildly as shortages of components occurred on an almost monthly basis for items such as hard drives and memory. This in addition to the difficulty of being a one person operation trying to comply with all the regulatory and paperwork requirements, and the fact that the taxes on his small business were more than his profits, led him to close it down.
Jim has held many jobs in the computer industry, but like many other people, he was subject to the Tech booms and busts during the 23 years he has lived here. There were a few lean times that saw him divorced and living on the street or in his car until the next job came along, but he never gave up hope and never stopped trying to improve things for himself and his family.
Over the last 10 years, he has attended NDNU off and on and managed to complete his Bachelors Degree and is only 2 classes shy of completing his Masters.
3 years ago, he met his wife Lina (short for Pasqualina) on FaceBook while playing Mafia Wars. They began chatting first through texts, then through Skype so they could see each other and talk in real time. With the 9 hour time difference between Mountain View and Invorio (a small town near Milan, Italy where Lina was living and working) it made sleeping difficult for both of them because they talked every day for hours at a time. It didn’t take long before they fell madly in love with each other.
They decided to meet 6 months later in Los Angeles during the Christmas break and the sparks flew. Just before Lina was to return to Italy, Jim asked her to marry him and she accepted. They spent a 6 months trying to navigate the myriad rules and regulations to ensure that they could be married and that Lina could legally remain in the US.
They wanted to marry as soon as possible, so they met again in Los Angeles in August and made an appointment with the INS. The INS agent was so helpful that Jim and Lina were married in Las Vegas less than four months later, just before Christmas, and Lina had her green card by July.
Jim has only recently become active in politics because he has spent the last 23 years providing for himself and his family and pursuing his dreams. But with the advent of recent decisions where Government seems to be determined to subject people to projects, laws, and regulations that they do not want or need such as High Speed Rail, telling businesses how much to charge for paper bags, and banning things based on their personal preferences, he did not see how he could possibly remain silent and uninvolved anymore.
It would take too long to go through Jim’s positions on all the topics that affect Mountain View here, so the link to his campaign website is provided below. The site has videos of Jim addressing the City Council on the subjects covered here and more. Hopefully reading this has given you an insight into this candidate. His unique life experiences allow him to bring a fresh perspective and practical solutions to the issues facing our great city. Please vote for Neal on Nov 6th!