SHELBYVILLE — Voters in Shelby County who are so sick of Chicago they would like to see it carved off into a separate state may get their chance to say so in November.
The Shelby County Board meets Wednesday morning and item five on the agenda is whether to approve placing a non-binding question on the formation of a new state on the November ballot.
Advocates pushing the idea have already got the question on the November ballot in Jefferson, Effingham and Fayette counties in central and southern Illinois.
Jeremy Williams, who is spearheading the ballot question in Shelby county, is a volunteer for an organization called “Illinois Separation," one of several groups agitating for the Illinois two-state solution.
“We want each county to decide,” said Williams, 34. “But the ideal would be one state being what is now Cook County and the other state being the remaining 101 counties. But any county that wishes to go with Chicago can stay with it.”
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What’s driving all this? Williams said he and many others are sick and tired of Chicago’s massive population dominating and controlling what happens in the rest of the Land of Lincoln. “We believe downstate values are being overshadowed and the rest of the state is trodden upon and not heard,” Williams said.
“We feel like all our tax money goes up there … and we feel like we are in a vassal and serf-type system where we all work and are taxed, but not to our benefit. And Chicago, one of the most corrupt political cities in the entire world, has been the major player in putting Illinois in its ridiculous financial situation.”
Jessica Fox, the Shelby County clerk and recorder, said a simple majority vote of the 22-member county board will be enough to add the two-state question to the ballot. Wednesday’s vote will take place in the open air of the 9th Street Pavilion southwest of the boat launch on Lake Shelbyville, where the board meets to allow for adequate social distancing in the time of COVID-19.
“Let’s hope for good weather,” said Fox.
Rain or shine and whatever the board vote, Williams believes he’s on a winner. He said he can also petition for a two state question to be put on the ballot and needs 731 signatures to go that route. “And I’m already sitting on 850 or so, give or take,” he added.
Williams says he has already made multiple presentations to the county board on the issue and wants to give it the opportunity to vote on something he sees as crucial to the future of the state.