Vowing to make a change, Jonathan Jackson, the son of Reverend Jesse Jackson, Monday officially threw his hat into the crowded First Congressional District ring, vowing to bring back people who have left Illinois and to improve the nation’s beleaguered health care and housing systems.
“I want to make change,” candidate Jackson told the media during a press conference at the ATU Local 38 Hall, 11204 S. Western Avenue. “Cook County has the largest land bank of any municipality in the country. We can bring our people back home.
“I do not enjoy seeing vacant lots,” he said. “I come very much prepared. I have traveled the world with my father. I’ve seen greatness… I am not going there to take a picture, (play) golf and be happy. I am going there to represent the First Congressional District,” Jackson told a cheering crowd of supporters who periodically chanted, “Run, Johnny, run.”
Thanking Rush “for his lifetime service to the community,” Jackson said “he stands on the shoulders of the late labor leader Charlie Hayes, and I know Charlie Hayes stands on the shoulders of Ralph Metcalfe. This is the longest serving district for African Americans in American history, and I want the opportunity to pick up the mantle. ”
Several family members were present at the press including his wife Marilyn and son Noah, along with his father, and his mother, Dr. Jaqueline Jackson, and siblings Yusef and Santita.
Jonathan Jackson’s campaign cast a broad net, drawing in supporters from the community, labor, politics, religion and education.
Deborah Cosey-Lane, financial secretary -Treasurer for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 and president of the ATU Illinois Joint Council, was present. Also at the press conference were former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore, labor organizer Clem Balanoff, one of his former Chicago State University students, John Riggins.
Attending the press conference also were Reverend Donald Parsons, Henrietta Leak, wife of Spencer Leak, Sr., owner of Leak & Sons Funeral Homes, activist Wallace “Gator” Bradley, and others, including some supporters who worked in Mayor Harold Washington‘s mayoral campaigns.
Former Senator Jones voiced strong support for Jonathan Jackson. “I support him because I know him. He has the training, the education and the commitment” to hold the seat being vacated by Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) who is retiring after serving nearly 30 years in office.”
Moore said Jonathan Jackson “is an educator, a businessman and an investment banker. I can’t think of anyone who is the best one to represent the First Congressional District. “There are 10 public hospitals left in the U. S. There is a move to close public hospitals.” Moore said Jackson will protect Illinois’ public hospitals and the Great Lakes.
Calling herself a “PK Kid,” Cosey-Lane said, “We observe our leaders. I watched Jonathan. “ When her union was fighting for their contract. You have to believe that you can do this…the power and the will to change people…, and he listened” to her. She said that is a sign of a good leader. “I’m going all the way with you, Jonathan, with my gym shoes because I only pick winners.”
Riggins told reporters he worked in Mayor Washington’s campaign and Jonathan’s run is a manifest destiny. “It’s already done. I will be here for 1,000 percent. I worked hard for Mayor Washington. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again.”
Balanoff said when Jackson goes to Washington, “he will hit the ground running.” He said there is no other person who has done more for voter registration and civil rights than the Jackson family he has known for more than 50 years.
Reverend Jackson spoke glowingly of his son saying, “Jonathan has come a long way” and praised his son for years of public service. Mrs. Jackson picked up the microphone and simply said to a round of applause, “Go, Johnny, go.”
“There is a community of steppers, and we are going to help them become politically astute so they can understand they got to keep stepping to the polls so that we can all say ‘Go, Johnny, go,’” said Bradley.
The race to fill the seat being vacated by Rush (D-1st) is becoming more crowded.
Others who have declared their candidacy include Karin Norington-Reaves, head of Workforce Development for Chicago and Cook County who was endorsed by Rush; Illinois Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16th); Kirby Birgans, Chris Butler, Jahmal Cole; Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd); Cassandra Goodrum, J. Darnell Jones, Marcus Lewis and Dee Nix, according to BallotPedia.
Two Republicans are also running, Eric Carlson and Geno Young, an African American. The primary will be held June 28; the general election is set for November 8.