CHICAGO (Reuters) - For much of his political career U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. was seen by many as an energetic sign of hope for Chicago’s troubled South Side and as one of the region’s up-and-coming lawmakers.
But after he resigned from Congress on Wednesday after being treated for bipolar disorder and amid reports that he was under investigation for possible misuse of campaign funds, there were mixed feelings among constituents in Illinois’ 2nd district, which Jackson represents.
While some spoke with admiration of how Jackson had looked out for his constituents, others saw him as unfit for office, especially with a federal investigation hanging over him.
“I intentionally voted against him,” said Caitlin Dioro, 25, an office manager who lives in Jackson’s district. “I stressed for others to do the same, but he won regardless. It’s such a shame.”
Jackson was re-elected to Congress in a landslide on November 6.
Just over two weeks later, the 47-year-old son of civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Reverend Jesse Jackson sent his resignation to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, in which he admitted to “my share of mistakes.”
Dion Jones, 30, a systems analyst from South Holland, said “I did not vote for him based upon the investigation. Plus, I didn’t think he was fit for the job, being hospitalized so much in recent months.”
Asked how he felt about the resignation, Jones said: “I think a resignation is a good for the people and himself, so he can deal with his problems on a smaller scale and allow someone else to do the job that he seems unfit to do. I wish he would have resigned before the election.”
Cynthia Stewart, 47, a resident of Crete, a southern suburb, did not vote for Jackson in recent years and said she knew he was going to resign even before the election.
“I did not like the fact that he waited until after the election to finally come out and say something,” she said. “Personally, I think that he is using his illness as a cover-up to help with his potential indictment.”
Others were sad to see Jackson go. Country Club Hills resident Mary Compton said he was “a man who truly cared about his district and people.”
Compton said of his resignation, “if there is any misuse of taxpayer funds, then he did the right thing.”
College student Chris Taylor, 19, in Kankakee, a city added to Jackson’s newly redrawn district, said many of his neighbors were pleased at the chance to vote for Jackson.
“Many in the African-American community were excited at the opportunity to have the African-American congressman represent their views,” he said. “While I was aware of Jackson’s many ethics issues, I felt his record in Congress would better represent my views.”
Reporting By Renita Young; editing by Nick Carey and Christopher Wilson