TINLEY PARK, Ill. (STMW) – Bemoaning a lack of jobs and rising poverty in the south suburbs, the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday night announced plans to ramp up pressure on Gov. Pat Quinn to build a third airport outside Peotone.
“This is about jobs and lower taxes. It would be a huge boon to this side of Chicago,” Jackson told a crowd of about 50 airport advocates, including several suburban mayors and clergy members, during an event at the Odyssey Country Club.
“Here’s a case where people, white, black and brown, come together because this is about economics. We can move this from battleground to common ground. Economics bind us.”
His son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Chicago, who long has championed the third airport, did not attend the meeting because he was in session in Washington, D.C., according to his spokesman Rick Bryant.
When Quinn became governor in January 2009, he told voters he would build the south suburban airport “as fast as humanly possible.” He’s earmarked some $100 million in the state budget to buy up airport land and handle related court cases.
Thursday night, Jackson and the others vowed to pressure Quinn to make good on his promise to build the airport by launching a petition drive to present to Quinn on Dec. 17 at “high noon” at the Thompson Center in Chicago.
Most advocates view the construction and operation of a third airport, which would handle passengers and cargo, as a way to create jobs and stave off increasing poverty, unemployment and lack of economic development in the south suburbs. Opponents claim a third airport would be underutilized and decimate the largely rural area.
Bryant and others argue south suburban voters gave Quinn the margin of victory in November’s election, based in part on his airport promise, and they want the airport in return for that support.
“We need jobs today, not tomorrow. It’s been a month since Gov. Quinn was elected, and joblessness continues to grow,” said Al Penn, chairman of the Friends of ALNAC, the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission. “All we want for Christmas is an airport.”
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