Voice of the Voter: Albion Voters Express Economy, Leadership Concerns

By Kayla Moody

Published 03/17 2014 08:29PM

Updated 03/17 2014 10:52PM

In preparation for the March 18 primary election in Illinois Eyewitness News has been traveling around Southern Illinois talking with voters. On this Voice of the Voter stop, lead political reporter Kayla Moody heads to Edwards County where voters say they want to see the state's economy improve and a change of face in the governor's seat.

The quaint town of Albion, Ill. only stretches about two square miles. Home to around two-thousand people, conservative politics rule this Southeastern Illinois town.

Fred Wissel is a former farmer turned gun dealer. He says he does gun shows about 23 weekends out of the year. Monday through Thursday you can find him at Whistle Stop, his gun shop located along Main Street in Albion.

Wissel says he was pleased to see Illinois become a concealed carry state -- but it's one step forward, two steps back. He thinks it's over regulated and too costly.

"I was glad it passed but I'm wondering how good it will because there are so many places you can't go with your guns," says Wissel. "You can't even go to a rest area and carry your gun, you gotta lock it up in your car."

"I think it's a revenue thing for the state of Illinois cause it's pretty expensive."

Wissel says running a small business in Illinois is also expensive. He'd like to see less taxes and incentives for established businesses, not just new businesses.

"It seems like every time I turn around I'm paying taxes for this, taxes for that and it's hard for the little guy like me to stay in business," says Wissel.

Many Edwards County locals trade lengthy commutes for solid employment. Dennis Splittorff says there aren't enough good paying jobs to go around.

"If it wasn't for Toyota in Indiana, this area would be hurting because a lot of people work over there and that's helped us out tremendously in Southeastern Illinois," says Splittorff.

Champion laboratories reigns supreme among local employers. Many suggest Albion would be a ghost town if "Champ" left the area.

Splittorff says legislators need to be more receptive to the oil industry. "We had a lot of fracking, a lot of oil business coming in here and the legislators got their hands on it and the oil people kinda slowed up coming in here and we were thinking were were gonna have an oil boom -- it'd be good for the economy," said Splittorff.

Many people in Edwards County tell Eyewitness News it's time for a change of leadership in Springfield.
"I'd just like to see the candidate that can beat Quinn because we need to get him out of office," says Wissel. "I think he's hurting Illinois. We need more jobs in Illinois and some of the other candidates have said they can do that."

Both Wissel and Splittorff say Bruce Rauner, a millionaire businessman vying for the republican ticket, seems like a good fit for governor.

"We need a business man, look at Indiana they're business oriented. Illinois is not business friendly. We need someone that's got the business in them so I figure we might as well give him a shot," said

Voters in Albion want Illinois to be more competitive in attracting and keeping businesses. They say they want the state to have more fiscal responsibility without looking toward citizens as endless sources of revenue.

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