Calvin "Chip" Jackson, a Richland County Councilman and former longtime Richland District 2 School Board member, has reportedly died. He was 65.
Multiple sources have told Free Times of Jackson's death. He represented District 9 in the northeast portion of the county, which includes the Pontiac community. The cause of his death is not yet known, though sources say it was from natural causes.
Jackson has served on Richland County Council since 2016. In June he had essentially secured another term on Council in a hotly contested Democratic primary for his seat. He eventually outlasted challenger Jonnieka Farr in a June 23 runoff. There was not a Republican in the race, meaning Jackson would likely have been re-elected in November.
Prior to being on County Council, Jackson served for eight years on the Richland District 2 school board, including two years as its chairman. He was the deputy superintendent of the South Carolina Department of Education from 1999 to 2005, and he also served on the College of Education Advancement Board at Clemson University.
He was a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he earned a journalism degree.
Jackson also was the former chief operating officer at Bible Way Church of Atlas Road, where his cousin — longtime state Sen. Darrell Jackson — is the senior pastor.
Richland County Council Chairman Paul Livingston, a three-decade member of Council, was crestfallen to learn of Chip Jackson's death.
"I really, honestly believe this is a tremendous loss to the county," Livingston says. "His valuable leadership is going to really be missed. He chaired two of our most significant committees, including the transportation penny program committee and the economic development committee. Those are huge initiatives and his leadership will really be missed."
Livingston says Jackson's background in education served him well in his work on Council. He also said Jackson was unwavering in his faith.
"I think most helpful was his spiritual perspective," Livingston says. "He was a really spiritual person, and that was a motivating factor to his leadership."
Third-term District 8 Richland County Councilman Jim Manning lamented the passing of his colleague.
"I had a great deal of respect for his service to the local community, both on the school board and County Council," Manning says. "It was an honor for me to have the privilege to serve with him. ... We just got this news and it is rocking our world a bit. ... He and I are very much in the same age bracket, so it strikes me even in a different way than in it might some other people."
District 10 County Councilwoman Dalhi Myers says she has known Jackson for decades. She was greatly saddened that he died.
"I've known and loved Chip Jackson as a big brother and friend my entire life," Myers says. "Even when he and I fervently disagreed on the issues, Chip reminded me that we were 'family.' Public service for minorities and women can be difficult. There are those who constantly look to erode the public's trust in or for Black leaders.
"Chip's presence and advice on dealing with this phenomenon always reminded me that my service was first to God, then to His people, our constituents. I will miss Chip personally and professionally."
Richland County Council, as a body, released a statement on Jackson's death on Friday afternoon.
"Councilman Jackson, a thoughtful and valued member of our body, led the Transportation Penny Ad Hoc Committee through very difficult times and our Economic Development Committee to great successes," the statement reads, in part. "Councilman Jackson was a hard worker, but more importantly, he was a dear colleague and friend. ... Richland County sends its deepest condolences to Councilman Jackson’s wife, Pat, his mother, children, grandchild, and the entire extended Jackson family."
The late councilman's wife is a retired educator who taught at Ridge View High School.
Jackson's family released a statement through a spokesman on Friday afternoon.
"Our hearts are saddened by the death of Councilman Calvin 'Chip' Jackson. This is a very tough time for us, as you can imagine," the family's statement reads, in part. We ask for your continued prayers and wishes. ... Again, we thank you for your support and kindness, and we ask for your continued prayers."
The business community also reacted to the passing of Jackson. Columbia Chamber President Carl Blackstone says Jackson was a voice of reason in partisan political times.
"We are shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of Chip Jackson,” Blackstone says. “He was a good friend and advocate of the Columbia Chamber and the entire business community. Chip will be remembered as someone who chose compassion over partisanship in today’s divisive world."