Explorers

Sen. Jeff Jackson is an Army captain, attorney, dad and social media sensation

Jeff Jackson, 32, is sacrificing dad and hard-working Democratic Senator for the 37th District of North Carolina.
Jeff Jackson, 32, is sacrificing dad and hard-working Democratic Senator for the 37th District of North Carolina.

Jeff Jackson, 32: sacrificing dad, and hard-working Democratic Senator for the 37th District of North Carolina.

He first caused a sensation with his “#JustOneLegislator” trend on Twitter.

“It was a total accident,” Jackson said, “there’s no way I could have pulled that off deliberately. … I was just passing the day and amusing the people who follow me. It did serve as a light-hearted way to talk about some very serious issues.”

Jackson’s tweets about being the only legislator at the General Assembly on a snow day were soon to be escalated to being featured on “The Rachel Maddow Show” within eight hours.

He says, “It’s almost an obligation for younger elected officials to be on social media. You have to meet your constituents where they are, and that is increasingly where they are.”

Jackson has a significant presence on social media, and does believe it will serve as a good platform for his career. When asked about his equation for success thus far, Jackson said “Preparation + Opportunity = Luck.”

He’s an Army Captain, Emory and UNC Law Graduate, attorney, senator, and dad to an elementary school aged son. From his first job at a Blockbuster in Chapel Hill, to his 12 years in the service, Jackson has just about seen it all.

Jackson works away from his family in Raleigh from Monday through Thursday and returns to Charlotte Friday through Sunday.

“I know that his family makes a great sacrifice for him,” said fellow Senator Terry Van Duyn, D., 63, of Buncombe County. “My husband traveled a lot when my family was young, so I know about the sacrifice they make for his career.”

Jackson himself said that his biggest challenge is spending time away from family as well.

Jackson’s biggest concern is Pre-K. He called early childhood education the “poverty vaccine” and his top priority.

“The research is overwhelming that the most cost-effective way to reduce poverty and end government dependence is early childhood education,” he said.

When asked what kinds of big things he would like to achieve in the future, he said, “Universal Pre-K,” without any hesitation. “Especially for at-risk kids. If I pull that off, I’m getting into heaven.”

“I’m very used to the bottom rung of the ladder, which is exactly where I am in the State Senate,” said Jackson.

He struggled with the question of, “proudest accomplishment or moment,” and said that being an Honor Graduate for Basic Training and getting his wife to marry him would be those moments.

“I don’t have any accomplishments that I’m particularly proud of, but I hope to,” Jackson said. “I can picture doing some big things that help a lot of people. And when that happens, I’ll take a minute to be proud. … I’ve never really taken a vacation, because I’ve never really felt like I deserved one. But one of these days, when I do something that helps a lot of people, I’ll take a vacation.”

This story was written as a part of the Charlotte Observer’s high school journalism Explorer Post.

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