Voice of the Voter: Shawneetown Voters Rely On Religious Beliefs

The Voice of the Voter tour heads to Shawneetown, where voters talk about taxes, same-sex marriage and medical marijuana.
The Voice of the Voter tour heads to Shawneetown, where voters tell Eyewitness News Lead Political Reporter Kayla Moody they hold tight to their religious beliefs when heading to the polls.

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Lunchtime at Belle's Diner draws crowds from near and far -- it's a local favorite.

The diner belongs to Nellie Rigsby, a former nurse who gave up the medical field to pursue her lifelong dream of opening a restaurant.

"I find that it's a lot harder than just getting a regular paycheck," admits Rigsby. "But I enjoy it, I love it, I have wonderful customers and I'm really glad I did it."

The diner opened just two years ago, enough time for Rigsby to become all too familiar with the challenges of being a small business owner in Illinois.

"I at one time had several employees but I had to let them go and do most of the work by myself because the taxes are unreal," explained Rigsby. "It mounts up and then I have all the overhead. I question sometimes if I'm doing the right thing, but I know I am. I just know in my gut I am."

That gut feeling is empowered by Rigsby's strong Christian faith. She says her religion shapes her political beliefs, including her views on the state's recently passed same-sex marriage law.

"I'm strongly against it because God did not create a man to be with a man and a woman to be with a woman," says Rigsby.

When it comes to medical marijuana, Rigsby says she's not for or against it, but as a former nurse she understands its medicinal value.

"I've had loved ones that are in so much pain and, you know, if I had anything that I could give them legally, I would've because they're hurting so bad," says Rigsby. "I guess it's really no different than taking a prescribed pain pill or whatever, but I'm afraid it would be abused."

Michael Speel does not want to see the use of medicinal marijuana expanded in Illinois.

"Medically wise, I think only the very severe that are bedridden that need it to control their pain [should be able to have it.] That I'd agree with, but just going out here to smoke it because you think you need it for pain there's other remedies for pain other than marijuana," says Speel.

Like Rigsby, Speel says he lets his religious beliefs guide is political ideals.

"It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. I'm against gay marriage and I'm against those that participate in it," says Speel. "When I go to the polls I find out how the candidate stands on that issue and it's a moral issue and that drags this country down."

Rigsby and Speel both want to see integrity brought back to Illinois politics. They say the first step is a change of face in the governor's seat.

I definitely don't agree with Mr. Quinn," says Rigsby. "I hope Pat Quinn gets beat, I mean he is not good for Illinois."

"I don't think he's for the people," says Speel.

Voters in Shawneetown tell Eyewitness News they want to see strong leadership in the state of Illinois. Not just any leaders, but those who will let their moral compass guide policy-making.
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