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Beavers, Jackson Jr. and Sandi Convictions Leave Voters Weary

By Wendell Hutson | March 26, 2013 12:07pm

SOUTH CHICAGO — If one more elected official representing the Southeast Side is forced to resign because of corruption, Teresa Crittle said she'll stop voting.

"Every time I look up we are losing someone to a scandal, and it's getting pretty ridiculous," said the 53-year-old homemaker, wife and mother of two.

Referring to recent guilty pleas by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Chicago) and his wife, Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), and now the conviction of Cook County Commissioner William Beavers, Crittle said, "I mean, come on."

"What is it going to take for these guys [elected officials] to realize that the government is watching them? All of this corruption makes me not want to vote anymore and I probably won't after this next election," she said.

A special election is scheduled for April 9 to replace Jackson, who resigned in November and pleaded guilty Feb. 20 to misusing campaign funds. Jackson's wife, Sandi, resigned Jan. 11. She also pleaded guilty in federal court on Feb. 20 to income tax evasion.

Beavers' conviction Thursday of income tax evasion means he'll have to resign his post under state law.

South Side Democrats have assembled a search committee to replace Beavers, chaired by Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st). Brookins said committee members include Aldermen Roderick Sawyer (6th), Michelle Harris (8th), Anthony Beale (9th) and Carrie Austin (34th).

"Until Commissioner Beavers resigns we cannot set a date for our first meeting, and I don't think there's any pressure for him to step down immediately," Brookins said Monday. "I ran into his attorney, Sam Adam, [Monday] in court, and he told me that the conviction has not yet been entered and probably won't until a sentencing date is set, which ... has not happened."

Beavers, whose district office is in South Chicago, was unavailable for comment.

But regardless of when Beavers resigns — which he said Thursday he would do if necessary — Altovesia Hall wonders what the rush is.

"There are people out here shooting babies, and people are worried about when a crooked politician will resign," said the 42-year-old nurse assistant, who grew up in South Chicago. "Folks need to leave that man alone and instead concentrate on stopping all these killings around here."

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the innocent victims during times like these are the residents.

“This has been an unfortunate turn of events for everyone involved, especially the residents of the 4th District," Preckwinkle said. "It is my hope the committeemen find a candidate who has a record of community involvement and [one] who is committed to serving the residents of the 4th District."

While crime is a big concern for Marnetta Johnson, who also lives in South Chicago, she said better politicians are still needed.

"I know it's hard to find someone who wants to represent us because this is a bad area, but there's got to be someone honest and willing to put the needs of the voters first and not their own personal agenda," Johnson said.

"Maybe there needs to be better screening for people running for office. This way they could be checked out before their name is placed on the ballot. And besides doing a criminal background check, an integrity check wouldn't hurt either," Johnson said.