With U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s resignation, voters in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District have a new opportunity to elect the best possible representative. Don't squander that chance this time.
Jackson, who has been on medical leave since spring, finally resigned last week. In his resignation, he acknowledged not just his health issues but also that he is under federal investigation, reportedly for misuse of campaign funds.
It says a lot about the politics and the voters in that congressional district that, even though Jackson did not campaign for re-election, he won handily on Nov. 6 -- just two weeks before he resigned.
This is a congressional district with a troubled history.
Jackson's predecessor, Mel Reynolds, spent 36 months in federal prison for criminal sexual assault involving a 16-year-old campaign worker.
Reynolds' predecessor, Gus Savage, was censured for reportedly propositioning a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire.
The people of the 2nd Congressional District deserve better than this, and it's up to the voters to use discernment in evaluating the candidates.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has set March 19 as the tentative date for a special election to replace Jackson. In an ideal world, the date could be changed to coincide with the April 9 municipal elections already scheduled, which would save millions of dollars in a state already notorious for being cash-strapped.
April 9 is outside the 115-day limit for holding a special election, as required by state election law, so an exception would be required to change the date.
But when you look at how long that district has been without representation in Congress, what's three more weeks?
Whatever date this congressional election is held, the voters must carefully weigh the candidates' backgrounds as well as their campaign promises.