Congressional Candidate for the 1st District, Jonathan Jackson is no stranger to civil service. The third of five children born to social justice advocate, Jacqueline Jackson and Civil Rights leader, Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Jonathan Jackson, and his family have been involved in political service for decades. Jackson leaves the corporate and education sectors seeking to become the next US Congressman representing the State of Illinois.
As part of our 2022 Primary and Election coverage, the Chicago Defender spoke with Jonathan Jackson about his stance on the issues and why he believes he’s the best candidate for the 1st District Congressional Seat.
Chicago Defender: Can you tell me what you think the most pressing issue concerning Black Americans is right now?
Jonathan Jackson: I’m hearing a lot regarding violence, specifically gun violence. I’m hearing a lot about the rising energy costs and inflation. I’m hearing a lot about housing in the city. We are facing a tremendous housing burden. There’s also real concern regarding COVID because the pandemic is not over. It has had a tremendous devastating toll on our communities.
I’m hearing a lot about education and workforce opportunities. We also have a transit problem. Those seven points are what I hear the most about along with voting rights but it’s not just an Illinois issue, these are national issues.
Chicago Defender: There are many Black Americans that feel like Black politicians forget about the Black community and issues important to us after they get elected. How would you balance the issues important to the Black community with all of your duties as a Congressman?
Jonathan Jackson: Well, you got to represent the majority of voters in this district. This is an African American seat, which affords you the latitude to be the champion for African American voices and concerns. Without question, we care for and represent all, but the body of people that will deliver this congressional seat to Washington will be African American. So being steeped in the neighborhood, knowing their concerns, and being their advocate allows us the opportunity to speak about the Afghan refugees coming to the state of Illinois. It allows us to talk about Ukrainian refugees coming to the state of Illinois. We can also weigh in on what happened at the border in Mexico with the Haitian refugees. This is a seat that has to represent African Americans, and share our culture, our views, and our perspective with other people that live in districts that don’t have many or very few African Americans.
It comes from knowing our history, and our culture, and having a commitment with courage. When you get to DC, people forget because you are meeting people of enormous influence. I’ve been there and done that. I know the landscape but more importantly, I care about the plight of the people. When you care about the people, you take them with you to Washington DC. I view this as having a charge to keep and as I walk through those corridors of power, I am able to raise our voices. It is about commitment and having the courage not to change or forget.
Chicago Defender: How would you address jobs in America? Not the creation of jobs but the retention of superior quality jobs in America?
Jonathan Jackson: Some older industries that have gone aware are going to come back in different forms and I don’t want us to miss that opportunity. Major corporations do not want to have their complete supply chain outsourced. So, what used to be offshoring for US manufacturing is going to have a reversal now with some showing a return to manufacturing jobs in the United States. We have to make sure that our city, county, or region is hospitable to bring those jobs and that workforce.
It begins with aligning our vision and our understanding of the market with our incredibly diverse workforce. We can turn this region around and make it a land of opportunity in the City and South Suburbs.
Chicago Defender: What would you do to address the root causes of violent crime?
Jonathan Jackson: First, we have to address guns and gun violence. It is a public health crisis. We’ve got over 170 people killed in Chicago today. We have 3500 people shot within our city limits last year and 35,000 over the last ten years. These numbers are insanity. They are higher than in some war zones. We should support federal legislation that closes these shadow gun dealers. We have to strengthen the laws that let Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms shut down those gun manufacturers and gun sellers that sell illegal guns. We have to stop straw gun purchasers that are feeding guns into our state.
Second, we have to understand why people pull the trigger. We have to address the mental health issues that are affecting people so much that they are willing to end a life and subsequently end their own by dying or going to jail. We need to understand the effects of COVID, housing burdens, and economic constraints. We must have bold legislation to make sure people have all the resources they need to live.
Chicago Defender: What makes you the best candidate for the 1st District?
Jonathan Jackson: I would say what separates me is my credentials. Having worked in business and studied business, I don’t look at scarcity, I think in terms of abundance. How can we create more? How do we get people involved more and how do we grow the pie because there is enough for everyone?
My background working on Wall Street, Los Angeles, and Chicago, my education from Northwestern, and my teaching experience at Chicago State and Kennedy King prepared me for this role. I’ve met with heads of state and traveled on peace missions with my father. I’ve also been a part of trade delegations, so I feel as if all of my collective experiences were preparation.
This position requires the willingness to be a peacemaker, to lead, and to take initiative. I already have relationships with congressional leaders, so I see the entire field and I know what we have to do and most importantly, I’m willing.