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Jefferson County board puts Chicago separation question on ballot

MT. VERNON (WSIL) — Should Chicago be its own state?

The idea of southern Illinois separating from the city has been around for decades but in March, Jefferson County residents will be asked about it in the next election.

Randy Edwards, vice chairman of the Jefferson County Board, doesn’t like how Chicago guides the political agenda in Illinois.

"I feel like the people of southern Illinois aren’t being properly represented due to us being so outnumbered by Cook County. Their values are different than ours. We look at things definitely than they do," Edwards said. "I can’t see where Cook County values are what we need down here."

The ballot question is only an advisory referendum, meaning a yes or no vote wouldn’t actually change anything.

"I want to call it to the attention of the people and see how they feel about it," Edwards said. "You got to start somewhere and that’s where I’m at."

The board voted 12 to 1 in favor of putting the question on the ballot Monday night.

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Edwards said he’s interested in seeing how people feel after lawmakers passed several tax increases this year, including a gas tax increase and license plate fee hikes.  

"Up in Chicago, they use a lot of mass transit. With the mass transit, they’re not paying all these taxes so these taxes are pointed at southern Illinois and we need to get away from that," Edwards said.

Taxes aren’t the only issue.

"They have no concept of the second amendment in Cook County and that’s a very important issue to me," Edwards said. "There’s so many things. They’re different than we are and I don’t want to live that way."

And in March, Jefferson County will get the chance to say whether or not they agree.  

The county board also passed a 3.75 percent tax on marijuana sales in the county.

That tax only applies to areas outside of city boundaries and Edwards said he hasn’t heard of any businesses interested in setting up shop in the county.

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