Illinois county board member talks joining Missouri

(The Center Square) – Jersey County board member Eric Ivers is convinced he’s speaking for the masses in advancing his call for up to eight downstate counties lining the southern Illinois border to officially become part of Missouri.

“What we’re looking for is the possibility of more rules like our own, which Missouri has, and getting away from being controlled by extremely small geographic but extremely large population areas in Chicago,” Ivers told The Center Square of the referendum question on the issue he sought to have placed before voters this spring. “That includes taxing and gun rights, just those types of things that the red counties are in favor of and the blue counties are totally against.”

Ivers argues that some residents have become so frustrated with the thought of being represented by a party that doesn’t really speak for them a growing number of them are even proposing dividing Illinois into two states.

Seeing any kind of change on such a front come about, Ivers concedes won’t come easily, especially with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul already blasting such succession talk as an effort that would have “no binding legal effect.”

“He’s technically correct; we can’t just vote to secede Illinois and join Missouri, but we had no intention of doing that,” Ivers added. “The process would have been to investigate how to go about moving the borders from one state to the other, which would include the Illinois legislature, the Missouri legislature and the U.S. Congress. The referendum that was knocked down was simply to see what the feelings of the people of those counties were.”

Ivers leaves no doubt about where he stands, even as debate over the issue hits a fever pitch.

“My standing is still that the citizens of Jersey County would be better off if we were a county in Missouri,” he said. “There’s also been some support in surrounding counties, and it’s likely if we ever pursued this we would get the same type of vote in about six other counties around us.”

Now recovering from a pair of major surgeries, Ivers said he isn’t sure about what could come next.

“My guess is that it’s going to be hard to get a referendum on the ballot since I’m not capable of pushing the program myself and if it does get on the ballot I would think it will take many years for things to actually culminate in a change of state boundaries,” he said.

For any succession plan to advance voters in Illinois, Missouri and the U.S. Congress would all have to sign off on it.

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