Pastor Anthony Williams, one of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s opponents for the U.S. House of Representatives, is calling for the Illinois congressman to resign.
“We have an absentee congressman right now and the people in the Second Congressional District are not receiving any kind of services,” Williams said.
Jackson abruptly left Congress June 10. He initially said he was being treated for “exhaustion” but a statement from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., later said he was being treated for bipolar disorder.
He returned home to his family in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.
“I recognize he has an illness but at the same time, life has to go on with or without him in his district,” Williams said. “The fact of the issue is not his health. The history of his record is unhealthy.”
Williams, 57, said he has spoken to people in the district who are unhappy with Jackson. He said some people do not believe he is sick, but that he is hiding from a House ethics investigation of allegations that a supporter offered campaign contributions to former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich if he would appoint Jackson to President Obama’s old Senate seat.
Representatives for Jackson did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but he has denied knowledge of any such arrangements and has not been charged.
Meanwhile, Williams of Dolton, Ill., pastors the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in nearby Robbins, and is running as an independent Democratic write-in candidate.
“I am very sensitive to his illness because of the fact I have people in my family who are bipolar, but at the same time if you can no longer do the job and you can’t campaign, you need to resign,” Williams said.
Jackson, 47, was first elected in 1995.
Williams said Jackson has done little to address violence in the Second District, as well as job creation, so he has a message for the congressman.
“Bottom line is we are facing some serious challenges in America right now,” Williams said. “You need to recognize that you are in a very privileged position as a public servant.
“He has never had the heart of a public servant,” Williams added.
Republican Brian Woodworth and Independent Marcus Lewis will also challenge Jackson in November.