CHICAGO — After months of speculation regarding her political future, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) resigned Friday.
In a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the South Shore alderman said she was resigning to spend more time with her family, including her husband, former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who quit shortly after winning re-election in November in the face of health problems and a federal probe into his campaign finances.
"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," Sandi Jackson wrote in her resignation letter. "Likewise, I am unapologetically a wife and a mother and I cannot deny my commitment to those most important personal responsibilities. To that end, after much consideration and while dealing with very painful family health matters I have met with my family and determined that the constituents of the 7th Ward, as well as you Mr. Mayor, and my colleagues in the City Council deserve a partner who can commit all of their energies to the business of the people."
Jackson's last day in City Council will be Tuesday, she said.
Emanuel, in a statement, thanked Jackson for her service and said plans to identify her replacement would begin next week. The mayor has 60 days to appoint the next 7th Ward alderman to complete Jackson's term.
"As Sandi takes this time to focus on her family, we give her our deepest thanks and support for her service to our city and the residents of her ward. Her leadership has been greatly appreciated in the Chicago City Council," the mayor said.
The writing for Sandi Jackson to follow her husband out of elected office had been on the wall for weeks, if not months. Jackson was increasingly absent from City Council sessions after her husband was treated for bipolar issues and did not vote on the 2013 budget. She was also embroiled in a federal investigation into his activities.
Although she briefly considered a run for his seat last month, she quickly “made a more definitive decision," in the words of her Chief of Staff Keiana Barrett. "She has decided squarely to focus on her family and serving her constituents in 7th Ward."
Friday, she narrowed that focus even more.
Jackson herself defeated an appointed incumbent in her first aldermanic election in 2007, beating Darcel Beavers. Beavers had been appointed the previous December by Mayor Richard M. Daley to replace her father, William Beavers, who had moved on to the Cook County Board. After a rancorous campaign, Jackson won a four-person race with 56.7 percent of the vote. Beavers got 33.5 percent.
Jackson won a rematch in a five-person race in 2011, again earning a majority with 53.1 percent of the vote. Beavers got 26.2 percent, and no other candidate earned 5 percent of the vote.
With her political future sealed - for now, at least - other political colleagues and associates expressed sympathy for Jackson, who has spent much of her time at her husband's side in Washington, D.C..
"I think she resigned because she got tired of being harassed and asked a lot of questions that she probably couldn't answer anyway," said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago). "This whole ordeal with her and former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is one of the most tragic things I have experienced. I just hope now Sandy, her husband and children can live a peaceful life."
“I know that Sandi did not arrive at this decision quickly or arbitrarily," said U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago). "This is something that she had to really consider. My prayers go out to the family. We really need to surround the Jackson family with compassion and understanding. I know that the Jackson family will come out much stronger as a family.
“Sandi is a brilliant woman, a loving mother, a committed wife and a tremendous leader," he added. "Chicago will not be as good as it could have been due to Sandi’s resignation. I believe that she may take this time to focus on her family.”
"She will be missed," said Ald. Howard Brookins (21st). "She was an asset to the Black Caucus and one of five attorneys we had as a member. Sandy did a lot for this city and her ward and people should know that."
"I texted her when I heard about her resigning and she texted me back to say she was on her way to the airport but would call me later," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), who sits next to her in the City Council. "She was a valued colleague and I hate to see her leave."
The Jacksons also keep a home in Washington, D.C., and the time spent at their residence there has been a campaign issue in the past.
Others, meanwhile, expressed triumph. "Once again, the chickens have come home to roost," said the Rev. Anthony Williams, a candidate in the Feb. 26 Democratic primary to replace Jackson Jr. in Congress. "The people are the ones who will suffer, not her. The mayor should allow those who are interested in being appointed the opportunity to apply before sticking someone in there to hold her place until the next election. That entire area has lacked proper leadership for years, but now that the Jacksons are gone hopefully that will change."
Emanuel did not tip his hand on whom he is considering, saying only: "The process to identify a replacement for Ald. Jackson to serve and represent the residents of Chicago’s 7th ward will be announced early next week."