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Jesse Jackson Jr. leaves Congress, CBC chair recalls his legacy

3rd December 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Hazel Trice Edney
Contributing Writer

TriceEdneyWire.com – U. S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., upon resigning from the U. S. Congress last week, received accolades from his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, who cited the “rich legacy” of service that he provided to his constituents.

”For close to two decades, Rep. Jackson Jr. has served and fought for the people of Illinois’s Second Congressional District. He has diligently worked to be their voice in Congress, to improve their quality of life and the communities in which they live,” said CBC Chairman Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) in a statement. “Time and time again, his constituents supported him because he proved his unwavering commitment. No one can deny that Rep. Jackson Jr. has been one of the greatest advocates for the people he served… Rep. Jackson Jr. has been an esteemed Member of Congress and of the Congressional Black Caucus and will depart with a rich legacy in place. His presence and contributions to this body will be missed.”

Jackson has been absent from Capital Hill since May. Still, his Nov. 21 resignation hit hard coming from a member of Congress once considered as a rising star within the Democratic Party. Jackson, the son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., was an avid advocate for the poor and served on the Appropriations Committee.

He resigned to continue treatment for a diagnosed bi-polar disorder. His resignation also comes amidst a federal investigation into his handling of campaign finances among other financial questions. However Jackson has not been charged with a crime.

A successor has not yet been named for the seat. Illinois Gov. Patt Quinn, a Democrat must now schedule a primary and general election. Meanwhile, the jockeying has begun. The Associate Press reports that a dozen or more names are already circulating. Among the interested are Chicago aldermen, a former NFL linebacker, and a defense attorney who represented R&B singer R. Kelly and former Gov. Rob Blagjevich, AP reports.

The line up of candidates so concerned Jackson family friend Rep. Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) that, during a press conference, he reportedly appealed to prospective candidates, “Cool your jets.” Rush reportedly said he feared a conservative or Tea Party candidate could win with so many candidates in a race.

The following is Jackson’s letter to House Speaker John Boehner, as printed by the Chicago Defender Newspaper:

“In 1995 when I was first elected to the House of Representatives I came to Washington with a singular purpose – to serve the constituents of the Second District of Illinois. During that time for seventeen years I have traveled on a journey with the citizens of the Second District of Illinois, and with their unwavering support we have worked together to transform what was once an underdeveloped and nearly forgotten South Side of Chicago.

Along this journey we have accomplished much. We have built new train stations, water towers, and emergency rooms. We have brought affordable housing, community centers and healthcare clinics to those who needed it most. In all, nearly a billion dollars worth of infrastructure and community improvement has been made on the South Side of Chicago and thousands of new jobs have been created.

We began this journey by promising fresh water for the people of Ford Heights and a new airport that would employ upon completion 300,000 people. Today the people of Ford Heights have fresh water and sitting on the Governor’s desk is 400,000,000 dollar proposal for an airport that will cost the taxpayers nothing and only awaits the Governor’s commitment to build it. And while our journey to strengthen our communities and provide a better future for our children will continue, I know that together we have made the Second District of Illinois a better place.

For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service. However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues that matter most to the people of the Second District. I know now that will not be possible.

The constituents of the Second District deserve a full-time legislator in Washington, something I cannot be for the foreseeable future. My health issues and treatment regimen have become incompatible with service in the House of Representatives. Therefore, it is with great regret that I hereby resign as a member of the United States House of Representatives, effective today, in order to focus on restoring my health.

During this journey I have made my share of mistakes. I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone. None of us is immune from our share of shortcomings or human frailties and I pray that I will be remembered for what I did right. It has been a profound honor to serve the constituents of Illinois’s Second Congressional District and I thank them for their patience, words of support and prayers during what has been, and what will continue to be a very trying time for me and my family.

I also thank my colleagues and staff for supporting me and the citizens of my district over the past several months. I am proud to have worked alongside each of them over these many years. I know that our work and accomplishments will have a lasting positive impact on our community and our nation.

With optimism and hope I look forward to the day when my treatment is complete and my health improves. I will truly miss serving as a Member of Congress and I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to the people of Chicago, and her Southland for granting me the opportunity to serve them for 17 wonderful years. Sincerely, Jesse Jackson, Jr. Member of Congress.”

This article originally published in the December 3, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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