Sandi Jackson resigns from Chicago City Council

January 11, 2013 8:29:24 PM PST
Citing ''very painful family health matters,'' Alderman Sandi Jackson resigned Friday from the Chicago City Council.

Jackson's resignation letter was delivered to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel by fax from Washington DC.

She wrote, "As a representative of the people of the 7th Ward, I value the public trust which has been bestowed upon me and take my responsibility to safeguard the interests of my constituents seriously. Likewise, I am unapologetically a wife and a mother and I cannot deny my commitment to those most important personal responsibilities. . . "

Jackson went on to write that her constituents "deserve a partner who can commit all of their energies to the business of the people. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as Alderman of 7th Ward, effective January 15, 2013."

Mayor Emanuel released a statement, "As Sandi takes this time to focus on her family, we give her our deepest thanks and support for her service. . . "

Jackson has served in Chicago's 7th Ward since 2007. One month ago, she told ABC7 she was "not resigning . . . I intend to finish my term unless something catastrophic happens."

Whether something "catastrophic" happened or not has yet to be determined, but something changed.

Jackson's aldermanic office closed about 90 minutes after the resignation letter arrived at City Hall.

"I think she made a family decision not based on other political considerations," Alderman Bob Fioretti said.

Jackson has missed several meetings in recent months, citing the reason as her family responsibilities. Her husband, former Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in June 2012, and stepped down from his political position in November. For several years, he was the focus of a House ethics investigation after trying to obtain the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama. Timeline: Jesse Jackson Junior's leave of absence/resigation

Also, last year, Jesse Jackson Junior became the target of a federal investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds, possibly to furnish their D.C. home. Sandi Jackson came under scrutiny for consultant fees and rent payments she received from her husband's campaign money. The $1,250 payments were made every month for years, but were not disclosed on her campaign fund reports until after Jesse Jackson Junior resigned. She then amended her previously filed public records to cite those payments.

Jesse Jackson Junior's attorneys say they are attempting to work out a plea agreement in his case. But so far there have been no charges against him, or any information what legal exposure Sandi Jackson could have.

"These are two brilliant people and what has gone wrong, nobody really knows," political consultant Delmarie Cobb said.

The Jacksons, who live in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood with their two children, were not at home on Friday. The news of her resignation came as a surprise to friends and foes.

"She is a great alderman, a great person," Norma Brown, whose home backs up to the Jackson family home, said. "I love her like a sister and hear that, I was surprised."

Not all of her former constituents were surprised by the news.

"I knew that was coming," 7th Ward resident Willie Mason said. "I've seen politicians going on in this city for years. From what I've seen those two aren't doing what they were elected to do."

Sandi Jackson is a polarizing figure in the 7th Ward. There are many constitutents who admire her but there are others who claim she was not an effective representative.

"They're missing too many meetings, not showing, not able to have a good explanation for what's going on," Mason said.

Eric Rogers is part of an informal neighborhood group called Sack Sandi that was working to get her out of office.

"But there is an arrogance, there that is part of what our problem is with her, and you know, we're just hoping we can get somebody better in who is going to pay more attention and actually live here in Chicago," Rogers said.

Some 7th Ward residents were concerned Sandi Jackson spent too much time at the Jackson home in Washington DC and not enough in Chicago.

"Her husband works in Washington DC and she's married to him and they have a home there. It would be safe to say that she resides there. We also know legally that she also has an address here," one resident said.

It's up to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to appoint Jackson's replacement who will serve until the next city election in 2015.

"The process to identify a replacement for Alderman Jackson to serve and represent the residents of Chicago's 7th Ward will be announced early next week," Emanuel said in a statement.