Natashia Holmes to replace Sandi Jackson as 7th ward alderman - Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29

Natashia Holmes to replace Sandi Jackson as 7th ward alderman

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Emanuel has chosen former IDOT employee Natashia Holmes to represent Chicago's 7th Ward in City Council, and fill former Ald. Sandi Jackson's vacant seat.

A mayoral commission interviewed and vetted dozens of candidates to fill the position. The commission welcomed candidates from all over the city, with various backgrounds. Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), the mayoral ally serving as the City Council's president pro tem, was one of the commission members.

Emanuel wanted to avoid choosing a new alderman that would have any ties to powerful families in Chicago politics. The 7th ward seat has been controlled by representatives from those influential families for years.

Former Ald. William Beavers (7th) is now a county commissioner awaiting trial on federal corruption charges.

Sandi Jackson resigned from her City Council post in January, which she held since 2007.

She is the target of a federal investigation regarding her involvement in the alleged misuse of campaign funds belonging to her husband, former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. She has yet to be charged with any wrong-doing.

He is also the target of a separate federal probe into the alleged misuse of his campaign funds, which was made public in October. 

Jackson Jr. signed a plea deal in the federal probe centered around him last week, which requires the former representative of Illinois' 2nd district to plead guilty and serve a short number of years in jail.

SEE: Jesse Jackson Jr. signs plea deal in federal probe

FOX 32's Darlene Hill reported exclusively that Jackson Jr. will receive disability pay and a large pension. She reported that he applied for a disability package shortly before handing in his resignation in November.

SEE: Jesse Jackson Jr. to receive disability pay from Congress: EXCLUSIVE

Jesse Jackson Jr. took a medical leave of absence at the beginning of 2012, and did not reveal the reason behind taking that leave until June of that year. He received treatment for bi-polar disorder at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic. He is reportedly still trying to get his health back on track.

These investigations and the media coverage surrounding them have taken a toll on the entire family. When Mrs. Jackson resigned from her City Council post, she cited the need to put her family first as the primary reason for her leaving.

Holmes is Emanuel's first appointment as mayor, and was one of three finalists. Former Ald, Sandi Jackson was allowed to submit names for consideration, but had no hand in the decision.

Shortly after the resignation, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell reported that Sandi Jackson had a farewell meeting with her staff via telephone and all but declared her chief-of-staff Keiana Barrett as her successor.

"From an insider's point of view, Mayor Rahm may say he wants to have interviews; the people he will interview will be the people I am suggesting," Jackson told the gathering made up mostly of precinct workers.

"They are interviewing people in the community, but they do that to calm people down. People want to have their input. But for the most part, they turn that matter over to the alderman."

Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed has reported that Barrett was under consideration to replace Jackson's replacement until it was discovered that she doesn't live in the ward.

But Jackson told supporters that Barrett would be appointed after the residency issue is resolved.

"We are going to be able to move forward according to state law," Jackson said. "She understands how that aldermanic office works. She understands how the campaigning apparatus works ... She already has an existing relationship with the mayor and the mayor's staff," Jackson told the group.

Jackson also noted that all of the furnishings for her ward office at 71st and Exchange were bought with campaign dollars.

"That means the city does not own any of the furniture that you are currently sitting on, any of the furniture that is in the campaign office, any of the furniture that is in the aldermanic office. I bought every item personally, and if the mayor upholds my wishes, everything in that office will stay the same. Keiana will inherit everything," Jackson said.

Emanuel responded by saying Sandi Jackson was free to recommend successors, but she will not dictate her replacement.

"She can obviously submit names. We have something on-line. She has a computer with an Internet connection," the mayor said, noting that he's accepting online applications from those interested in succeeding Jackson.

Asked whether he would welcome Jackson's recommendations, Emanuel said, "If she wants to. Sure. I mean — everybody can. I put it online. You can submit names online. The board will then meet, talk, review" the applicants before recommending three finalists to the mayor.

But the mayor said, "There are conditions. You've got to live in the ward. You've got to have been there for at least a year. I think I'm familiar now with the residency requirement. And then, you've also got to also from there have other conditions. Those are kind of the primary [conditions]. But, then, what has been your community involvement? What warrants you being an alderman? That will be what the board reviews. [But], anybody can put names forward."

The mayor has said he hopes that process he established in the 7th Ward will be a template for him to follow when future vacancies occur.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley filled a record number of aldermanic vacancies by appointment — including the wives, sons and daughters of retiring or deceased aldermen — before shifting to a process of accepting online applications towards the end of his 22-year reign.

Asked why he insisted on inviting all comers, Emanuel said, "If I just picked somebody, it's the mayor just deciding you're gonna have this loyal person…Somebody would say there is not community involvement. And I actually think the community should have an involvement, given that you don't really have an election. There's really no perfect plan. I put forward something I think will stand the test of time that will make sense of getting community input as you make a selection without an election because you can't at this time."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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