Taxes. It's the number one reason Jason Madlock of Centreville seeks election as a Republican to the 114th House District in hopes of unseating incumbent LaToya Greenwood (D-East St. Louis).
And possibly the second reason for getting involved is what he described as a lack of responsiveness from local elected officials - mayors and legislators - regarding management of their offices. Madlock said people don't feel as if they're getting the kind of representation they want.
"In East St. Louis a lot of people are angry at local government," Madlock said as a guest of Annie Frey on FM NewsTalk 97.1 on Monday. "Word is that you can't get a hold of them...I could have sworn we elected these people. I want to get my money's worth."
Madlock has an uphill battle against Greenwood's well funded campaign, but he says her campaign has focused primarily on East St. Louis, in spite of a diverse district that also includes parts of Belleville, Shiloh, Smithton, Freeburg and Scott Air Force Base.
Median incomes within the district range from well below the poverty line to well above it.
"It's not just a black and white race," he said. "There are multiple races. I have to appeal to every single person, unlike my opponent who is just reaching out to the East St. Louis side... where no one has any money, not a dollar."
He had identified as a Democrat until about 10 years ago when things changed as he and a cousin talked about a newspaper article promoting a public event. They weren't satisfied with the options available for them to support.
"You know we don't see any other races other than African Americans we don't like," he said. "We were tired of it. We opened up and just transferred over."
He said political affiliation doesn't matter to him as much as the concerns of people.
"I don't care if you make $10,000 a year or $500,000 a year," he said. "Taxes are important."
When asked if he thought people in the district would be ready to switch over to a Republican candidate, Madlock remarked that what happens to him all the time is people will say, "You know you are Black...and you are a Republican - the two don't mix."
He said his rebuttal is that Democrats have ruled the state for a long time - "are you happy with how the area is ran?" He said people roll their eyes.
Will he get cross over votes?
"Who knows," Madlock said. "I am not begging for votes...I ask that people vote for the right person. If you're content with how things are ran, vote for that person."
In trying to explain why allegiance to straight party voting is strong in the district, Madlock answered "corruption is all it is."
He said he's familiar with drug crimes and shootings near his community.
"The cost of a vote is about $5 to $20," he said. "And for those who do not have anything that is about 1 million increase in what they have. They are going to take it without thinking."
He said it is sad that a lot of people don't remember that generations ago people gave up their lives "just to fill in an oval."
"I'm just tired of it," he said.