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CHICAGO (CBS) – A month after denying rumors she planned to step down, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) submitted a resignation letter to the mayor’s office, effective Tuesday, citing the need to focus on “very painful family health matters.”
“As Sandi takes this time to focus on her family, we give her our deepest thanks and support for her service to our City and the residents of her ward,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a prepared statement on Jackson’s resignation. “Her leadership has been greatly appreciated in the Chicago City Council.”
Jackson’s husband, former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) resigned from Congress just before Thanksgiving. He’s been undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder since last summer. He’s also been under investigation by federal authorities for possible misuse of campaign funds, and his defense attorneys have been negotiating a plea deal.
Ald. Jackson has missed several City Council and committee meetings in recent months, after her husband twice was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment of his bipolar disorder.
In a texted response to CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine, Sandi Jackson said she had been enduring “the most difficult period in my life.”
“I can’t watch my daughter cry another day over my leaving to go to work,” she said. “I’m prioritizing my kids and my family.”
Similarly, in her resignation letter, the alderman wrote: “I am unapologetically a wife and a mother and I cannot deny my commitment to those most important personal responsibilities. To that end, after much consideration and while dealing with very painful family health matters I have met with my family and determined that the constituents of the 7th Ward, as well as you Mr. Mayor, and my colleagues in the City Council deserve a partner who can commit all of their energies to the business of the people.”
The announcement of Jackson’s resignation came exactly one month after she publicly refuted reports she was planning to step down.
“I’m not resigning. I am here, I am working, I’m going to continue to work, and whoever these people are who purport to speak for me should stop! I’m asking them please to stop,” Jackson said at the time.
Despite that denial, Jackson had been struggling to stay afloat the past two months. She’d hinted to CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine several months ago that this day might come.
She had been worried about her husband’s continuing disability, her children’s dealing with the scandal which led to his resignation, as well as her own differences with the Jackson family here in Chicago.
Her comments last month, while denying she was resigning, actually seemed to predict it.
“It would be hard for any family to go through what we’ve gone through publicly, and so there may have been times when I was overcome with exhaustion, I was overwhelmed, and felt as if I couldn’t take another step. That’s real, and that’s human,” she said.
Ald. Jackson was first elected to the City Council in 2007.
“It was my profound honor to be elected on February 27, 2007 as Alderman of the 7th Ward of the City of Chicago and I vowed to commit my time and energy to transforming our community and building an enterprising future for generations to come,” Jackson wrote in her resignation letter.
Political friends and allies sympathized with Jackson on Friday.
Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) said, “I know that they will rebound. I know that they will come out much stronger as a family.”
Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) said, “I would say that this was one of the sad chapters in the political history of our city.”
Davis said both Ald. Jackson and her husband were “very talented young people who had absolute opportunity to make use of their skill, talents, ambitions. Both of them were seriously endowed with a level of intelligence which helped them to understand this business.”
He said he believes Ald. Jackson “just got tired,” after her husband underwent lengthy treatments for mental and physical ailments and came under federal scrutiny for his campaign finances.
Jackson’s ward office – where she shared offices with her husband before he stepped down from Congress – was dark Friday afternoon. Sources said employees cleared out around 3 p.m., about the same time the mayor’s office announced the alderman’s resignation.
Some constituents in the 7th Ward were sympathetic to Jackson’s plight, and were sorry to see her go.
“I believe in standing by your man, so I think she did the right thing,” one woman said.
Aloi Mbaye said, “Where I’m from, family comes first. If your husband is not feeling well, you’ve got to choose – either the community, or the family. I think she chose the family first.”
With the resignations of both Ald. Jackson and Congressman Jackson — and Jesse Jr.’s brother Jonathan deciding not to run for his vacant seat in Congress — no member of the Jackson family will hold political office as of Tuesday.
But Rush said he wouldn’t be surprised if that changes.
“I will not count the Jackson family out. That family still has so much to give, and so much to offer,” he said.
The mayor’s office said a process to determine Ald. Jackson’s replacement would be announced next week. The mayor appoints replacements when an alderman leaves office in the middle of a term.