By Yussuf J. Simmonds
As the senior advisor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Rev. Leonard Jackson was in fact one of the deputy mayors. And since Rev. Jackson went to city hall from the religious community, he would often represent the Mayor in matters pertaining to the religious community. In order for the Mayor to adequately replace Rev. Jackson, it is important to understand the Reverend and the work that he did as a member of the Mayor’s team.
Mayor Villaraigosa issued the following statement about Rev. Jackson:
“Reverend Jackson was an integral, trusted advisor on a variety of issues. He worked diligently as liaison to Los Angeles’ faith based communities and created partnerships across religious and racial lines to solidify the many communities of Los Angeles. The Reverend’s counsel and insight will be difficult to replace.”
According to sources at city hall right now, they are still in the process of finding a replacement for Reverend Jackson.
In an article about Rev. Jackson, former senior pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal church (FAME), Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray stated , “By placing his trust in Rev. Jackson, Mayor Villaraigosa has placed his trust in a man we know to be a person of integrity, outreach and commitment to civil rights for all-regardless of race, color or creed.” Those words are from a man with whom Rev. Jackson labored at FAME.
In looking for an individual to replace Rev. Jackson, the Mayor will have to look for someone who can match the Reverend’s work and be able to command the trust and goodwill of the community. For as Dr. Murray further stated: “Rev. Jackson has been a part of the fabric of the community of faith and the fabric of this Los Angeles community for 30 years. He has given 30 years of service, 30 years of work, 30 years of dedication, 30 years of advocating, 30 years of praying, 30 years of giving to the Los Angeles community. As a minister of First AME Church, Rev. Leonard Jackson has worked and served with the utmost integrity and dignity in advocating for justice, economic empowerment for our people and civil rights.”
The Sentinel spoke with Rev. Jackson and though he did not give any specifics, he said that he did recommend to the Mayor, five names of qualified and reputable individuals who are up to the task of replacing him, and hopes that the Mayor takes his recommendations into consideration. As for leaving at this time, he said, “It was my decision and it was a personal decision; my dad is here in Las Vegas and he is suffering from Alzheimzer’s–and all he really knows is me. The longer I was there (in Los Angeles), the less time I would spend with him … and when I did see him, I could see the decline in his health.”
So despite the fact that he was the face of the Black community in the Mayor’s office, his devotion and concern for his father’s health is admirable. The community now waits to see who Mayor Villaraigosa will appoint to replace Rev. Jackson.
The Sentinel family wishes Rev. Jackson all the best as he leaves one job, serving the people, and embarks on another–a labor of love, taking care of his Dad.