Fairfield Illinois is a tight-knit community that holds tight to conservative values. It's where Chicago dogs are served with a dislike for Chicago politics.
"Chicago almost needs to be its own state," jokes one voter. "It has such a huge population compared to downstate that I think we kind of get lost down here a lot of times."
Ray Jungwirth owns Ray's Doghouse, serving up hot dogs and other products. Whether opting for a Chicago dog or the local favorite "Frankensteiner" sandwich, folks who eat at Ray's typically need something to wash it all down. That's why Jungwirth is against the proposed penny-per-ounce soda tax in Illinois.
A standard 12-ounce can of pop would cost 12-cents more under the proposed tax. Jungwirth sells 24-ounce sodas for $1.25. He'd have to raise the price to $1.50 to make up for the tax increase.
"I don't drink soda but I do sell it," explained Jungwirth. "People aren't going to be able to afford to buy it."
As a small business owner, Jungwirth knows the challenges entrepreneurs face in the Land of Lincoln, in particular, higher taxes.
"So many big companies are leaving the state just because of [high taxes]. I worked for a large company that made headlights and they actually went out of Illinois to Alabama to build a new factory there just because of the taxes," said Jungwirth.
Marty McGuire, a self-proclaimed conservative, echoes Jungwirth's economic concerns.
"Illinois is goin' broke so they're trying to charge more for everything and you can't hardly blame businesses for leavin' them," said McGuire. "They can't do much for them. It's kind of a sad state."
McGuire works for the City of Fairfield. The state's worst-in-the-nation pension crisis hits close to home. "I'm not sure how they're going to get out of it," he said. Fortunately, he adds, his pension is safe. "We have a different pension than the state workers do so our pension is not in real bad shape it's not affiliated with all the state workers' pension."
Sherryl Jungwirth is retired. She says it's only fair that the state find a way to make up for its $100 billion pension shortfall, families are counting on it. "I think people have earned their pensions and they were depending on them so they should be able to get them," she said."
But what she really wants to see is an end to Illinois's culture of corruption.
"Illinois has such a bad reputation with the governorship ... It just really needs to be cleaned up all together I think," she explained. "I heard on TV not too long ago that Illinois is known as one of the most corrupt states in the United States and that's really sad -- when you live in that state especially!"
Many Wayne County voters say the state's economy needs to take center stage in the legislature. Some believe social issues, like the recent legalization of same-sex marriage, are distractions from bigger statewide issues.
"That probably won't go real well around here," says McGuire.
Sherryl Jungwirth says she is against same-sex marriage because of her religious beliefs, a sentiment echoed by her husband Ray. "I'm certainly against gay marriage. That was wrong. I mean the bible was very clear -- and that's just wrong," says Ray.
The Voice of the Voter in Fairfield is a voice deeply rooted in religion. They want their legislators to approach state politics like the friendly people of Fairfield approach each day: with fairness, compassion and strong morals.
Tune into Eyewitness News Wednesday as Voice of the Voter heads to Mount Carmel, Illinois.
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