ROSELAND — Even before Robin Kelly was chosen to replace former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Tuesday night, voters said their demands for the next representative for the 2nd Congressional District were simple: honesty and accessibility.
"Everybody says we need jobs, economic development and more police. And yes, we do need those things, but what we need most is someone who will be honest with us and available to meet with us on a regular basis," said Nelson Harris, 55, of Roseland. "I don't think that's too much to ask or expect from an elected official."
Kelly, of Matteson, rolled to victory Tuesday over her Republican opponent, Paul McKinley.
Jackson, a 17-year incumbent from Chicago, resigned shortly after winning re-election in November and pleading guilty in February to misspending campaigns funds. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in June.
Before Jackson's 1995 election, the 2nd District was represented by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, who also resigned after being found guilty in 1995 of having sex with an underage campaign volunteer.
Tuesday's special election saw low voter turnout, and frustration ran high among those who did vote.
"To say I was disappointed in Jesse Jackson Jr. would be an understatement," said Clyde Hampton, who lives in South Chicago. "I cast my vote today for the candidate I hope will bring change to this area, and that candidate is Robin Kelly."
Some voters pointed out the parallels between their disgraced congressmen and convicted ex-Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.
"We had two governors in a row go to prison for corruption, and we had two congressmen in a row go to prison for illegal activity," said Pam Carter, 49, who lives in South Shore. "I have lived in the 2nd District my entire life, and I remember when it was an honor to be a congressman representing a middle-class community like South Shore. Boy, how times have changed. If the next congressman stays out of prison and actually meets with voters after the election, I will be impressed."
The 2nd District is filled predominately with Democratic voters, according to the city's Board of Elections Commissioners, and Democratic politicians unsurprisingly lined up to praise Kelly.
"I endorsed Robin Kelly because I feel that she is talented, energetic and is on the right side of the issues such as gun control and education," said Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, whose South Chicago home was squeezed out of the 2nd District afte redistricting.
Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said she's hoping Kelly will bring economic development to her neighborhood.
"No disrespect to Jesse Jr., but there is nothing he could point to in the 34th Ward that he had a part in. Absolutely nothing," Austin said.