CHICAGO — As past and present elected officials consider candidates to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, Jackson's former constituents are more concerned with issues facing their neighborhoods than political handicapping.
Cheryl Hunt, a 44-year-old single mother and a part-time office worker living in Roseland, said she was "thrilled" to see Jackson go.
While she said she doesn't have a replacement in mind, she hopes the next congressman addresses a growing problem in the 2nd District — hunger.
"I volunteer for the food pantry at my church [Sheldon Heights Church of Christ] every week, and I see more and more families showing up," she said.
Monica Olalusi, 42, a single mom living in West Pullman, said she was disappointed that Jackson ran for office again only to resign, and hopes her next representative tackles the South Side's crime problem.
The 2nd Congressional District stretches from the South Side through Will County to Kankakee County, an area that includes the homes of several elected officials who could be considering a move to Washington, D.C.
In Chicago, Ald. Will Burns (4th) and Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) have both been mentioned as potential contenders. Burns has a powerful ally in Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the 4th Ward Democratic committeeman. State Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) also has been named a possibility.
Late Sunday, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who was defeated by Jackson in this year's primary, reportedly entered the race.
Jackson had been on medical leave for bipolar disorder since June before resigning last week. Beale said constituents need representation as soon as possible.
"The news of Congressman Jackson’s resignation could not come at a worse time for the people of Illinois," Beale said. "[And] with so much at stake in Washington, those of us who live in the 2nd Congressional District need to have representation as soon as possible."
Former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger also has expressed interest in Jackson's seat. While he finished last in the primary behind Preckwinkle in a bid to be re-elected, he had more than $100,000 in his political fund in the most recent filing, and previously had $500,000 invested at Amalgamated Bank.
Then there's Sam Adam Jr., the eloquent Chicago defense attorney who has represented R&B singer R. Kelly and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Adam too has expressed interest, and would figure to be a formidable campaigner.
The Cook County suburbs include possible as candidates state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympic Fields) and Flossmoor Democrat Napoleon Harris, a former NFL linebacker newly elected to the state Senate.
Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, who lost the seat in a sex scandal in the mid-'90s, clearing the way for Jackson, is also considering running.
Charles Cathey Sr., a 79-year-old Roseland resident, said he would like to see Jackson's brother, Jonathan Jackson, replace him in Congress.
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to set the dates for a primary and general voting in a special election to replace Jackson on Monday. Quinn has said he will set dates that are fair, efficient and economical within the 115-day deadline from Jackson's Nov. 21 resignation, which would most likely mean they'll be lumped in with statewide municipal primaries and elections set for Feb. 26 and April 9.
Cook County Clerk David Orr, who will oversee the voting in the county's suburbs, has recommended those dates, and said a lone special election using other dates could cost $1 million.