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Sandi Jackson not resigning council seat

(MCT) CHICAGO — Ald. Sandi Jackson opted to clarify a few points Tuesday: She won't resign from the Chicago City Council unless "something catastrophic happens," she's not a candidate to replace her husband in Congress and she's undecided about whether to move back to Chicago permanently from Washington.

The 7th Ward alderman spoke to reporters outside her City Hall office as the political fallout continues from former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s decision before Thanksgiving to step down amid federal ethics investigations and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

The drama surrounding the Jacksons started in June, when staff announced he was taking a medical leave from Congress, and it stretched through the summer and fall. Ald. Jackson pushed back against public perception that she has neglected her duties as an alderman and missed important meetings.

"I think my constituents understand this. I'm not going to respond to one or two people who have some angst about my attendance in City Council," she said. "This has been a tough year for me, there's no doubt about that."

Asked whether she is considering resigning her council seat, Ald. Jackson acknowledged "it's been a very exhausting period for me."

"I think it's fair to say it would be hard for any family to go through what we've gone through publicly," Jackson said. "And so, there may have been times when I was overcome with exhaustion."

Later she Jackson indicated she isn't resigning.

"I'm here, I'm working, I'm going to continue to work, and whoever these people are who purport to speak for me should stop," said Jackson of the often anonymously sourced chatter that she is thinking about stepping down.

"I will finish my term. I intend to finish my term," Jackson added. "Unless something catastrophic happens — I could step outside and get hit by a bus today."

Asked whether her husband getting sent to prison would constitute "something catastrophic," Jackson said she would not discuss such a hypothetical. "I'm not going to entertain questions like that, I really am not."

But Jackson said she is certain she will not become a candidate in the 2nd Congressional District special election to replace former Rep. Jackson.

"No. I am not a candidate for Congress," Jackson said. "I intend to remain an alderman."

Ald. Jackson, who doubles as the 7th Ward Democratic committeeman, said she has not decided which candidate to support for the seat. A Democratic slating session is scheduled for Saturday.

The alderman also said she is undecided about whether to move back to Chicago full time from Washington, where she said her husband currently is staying with the couple's children while continuing to see his doctors regularly.

"What I'm doing right now is concentrating on delivering the best city services possible to the ward," Ald. Jackson said. "When that decision is made I'll be sure to let you know."

After speaking to reporters, Jackson went downstairs to attend a Finance Committee meeting. Before it started, she scurried around the chambers, moving from alderman to alderman, smiling and engaging in hushed conversations.

She hugged many of her colleagues and kissed them on the cheek, including Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, the committee chairman. Several aldermen later said she was telling them that she has no plans to resign from the council.

Tribune reporter Hal Dardick contributed.

Twitter @_johnbyrne


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