Updated 06/27/12 – 6:06 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Ald. Sandi Jackson today issued her first public comments regarding the medical leave taken by her husband, U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr.
“I think it’s important to say that I love my husband very much, that’s the first thing,” Jackson said in her first public statement since her husband’s office made an announcement Monday that he was taking a leave of absence.
“The second thing is, as a wife, my primary concern is that of my children. I just want to make sure they’re taken care of and provided for. And we’re just going to continue doing the good work that we’re doing here in the city of Chicago.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports
“And I want to say this one other thing, too. I want to thank all those folks who prayed for our family, who have kept my husband and myself and our children uplifted in prayer. It’s gratifying to know that there’s so much support.”
She received such support from her city council colleagues. Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said she encouraged Jackson to talk to reporters.
“I think the mayor and I both gave her a little encouragement,” Austin said. “I mean, why run? You’re going to face them sooner or later. I mean, and why not do it in a friendly confine, here.”
The mayor was also sympathetic.
“She is trying to hold her family together. She is dealing with a very difficult situation with two children,” Emanuel said. “My thoughts are with her, and her family as a whole, and that’s what I care about.”
Alderman Jackson left before the end of the City Council session, missing some key votes. Austin said Jackson had a sick child at home.
Jackson did not answer any questions from reporters, including where her husband is staying during his medical leave.
Congressman Jackson began his leave to begin treatment for exhaustion on June 10.
Jackson’s chief of staff, Rick Bryant, told WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore that the family doesn’t want Jackson’s staff to say where the congressman is, and he said he doesn’t know what caused Jackson’s exhaustion, or when Jackson will return to work.
Jackson has missed dozens of votes on Capitol Hill recently, but Bryant said he still has an exemplary voting record.
A close associate of the Congressman’s offered this analysis: “People expect him to resolve his situation, his health. His health is more important than a vote (in Congress).”
Political Consultant Delmarie Cobb – who worked on Jackson’s first campaign for Congress 17 years ago – said that tells her the issue is serious.
“I think he went five years without missing a vote, and for him to miss almost 30 votes in this month, that’s very significant,” she said.
Jackson has been under enormous pressure in recent years: his name has been linked to the U.S. Senate seat scandal that took down former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, he’s facing a House Ethics Committee investigation, he has been dealing with marital problems over his affair with a restaurant hostess, and a key Jackson fundraiser was indicted last week.