I Won’t Give Up On Congressman Jackson

By Gary Kopycinski

"Wow, what a night! What a journey!

"I have so many people to thank, so many people who worked so long and so hard to make this night a reality. I only have time to mention a few, so to everyone I leave out, I apologize…"

That was Alderman Sandi Jackson, the night her husband, Congreressman Jesse Jackson Jr. defeated former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson in the March 2012 primary election. I heard her from behind on stage, but I heard her loud and clear.

She’s a beautiful woman. He is very handsome. They make a stunning couple. Really. Their children were on stage as well.

They’re a very attractive family.

I was the guy with the over-sized face standing over the Congressman’s left shoulder as he delivered his remarks that night. They say the camera adds ten pounds? Okay, but most of that is still me. (I’m okay with self-deprecating humor. I need to exercise more and eat less. I know that. This is just another nudge for me to start doing that already.)

The Alderman continued that night:

"I am so pleased to be here with all of you tonight. And I am so happy to have the pleasure of introducing to you a man who has worked his heart out on behalf of our community all across the new 2nd Congressional District, from Chicago to Will County all the way to Kankakee!

"A man who has never walked away from a fight. A man who does not know what it means to quit.  And a man who will never take no for an answer!

"A great son. A great husband. A great father. And a great leader."

That last line stayed with me after that evening, particularly, "A great son. A great husband. A great father. And a great leader."

Jesse Jr. has big shoes to fill. Dad, well, dad marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dad had and has his own life, his own thing.

Junior has made his own way, forged his own path.

The congressman, if you will, has become his own man.

"A great son. A great husband. A great father. And a great leader."

Then there was this:

"I want to say a very special thanks to my campaign manager and my wife of 22 years, Alderman Sandi Jackson.

"Seventeen years ago – when we were still young graduates from the University of Illinois College of Law – it was Sandi who suggested that I run for Congress. She said way back then, if you’re elected to Congress young enough, you can serve long enough to make a difference in Washington and Chicago.  And she was absolutely correct. How about a hand for the best Alderman in Chicago, Sandi Jackson?"

That was Jesse Jr., and she was the first person he thanked that night.

I was right behind him when he said it. Right behind him when he patted the head of one of his sons.


Congressman Jackson has done wonderful things, secured millions in federal grants, for Park Foresters, and beyond.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, I’ve had time to reflect since then, and since before then.

On January 4, 2012, I had the pleasure of hearing Congressman Jackson speak to elected officials at the annual Legislative Breakfast of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association at Olympia Fields Country Club.

No, for heaven’s sake, I do not belong to that club, nor any country club. I can barely afford my annual membership payment to the NAACP ($75).

That morning, I was there representing Park Forest as one of its trustees.

That morning, I heard and saw Congressman Jackson speak, asked the elected officials in that room for their support.

This was not the, perhaps, firebrand Jesse Jr. I had heard in the past at political events, perhaps overly-confident, perhaps leveling charges against opponents.

This Saturday I saw what every incumbent should be: a person, in office, humbly asking for support and votes.

Not assuming, and never, ever demanding, support, or votes.

In short, I saw a wise man campaigning.

My heart has been saddened the past few weeks as I’ve watched media reports speculating on the Congressman’s recent leave of absence.

Many of those reports have gone to great lengths to draw conclusions, conclusions I believe are way off and entirely premature.

The Congressman is human, after all. If he needs a welll-deserved rest, well, that’s okay by me.

For my part, I pray for Congressman, who has always been good to Park Forest, who legitimately cares for the South Suburbs.

I pray for his quick return to public life

But, as long as it takes, as long as he needs, I will pray, and never give in to cheap speculation.

That’s the lot of main-stream media.

And the south suburbs deserve so much more.

Hats off to you, Jesse and Sandi.

Hats off to you and your family.

To you and yours.

The writer is editor and publisher of eNews Park Forest, and a Trustee in Park Forest, Illinois.