Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 6:34 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Rural California voters weigh secession

Voters in California’s Del Norte and Tehama counties will decide June 3 on an advisory measure, Measure A, that asks each county’s board of supervisors to join a wider effort to form a 51st state named Jefferson.


The Associated Press

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
I wish someday eastern Washington would do the same. The WA state policies and politics are being driven by the... MORE
Conservative rural areas receive more per capita in government support than liberal metropolitan areas...but they love... MORE
Eastern California has nothing in common with western California - same as eastern and western Washington - two very... MORE

advertising

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Residents of California’s largely rural, agrarian and politically conservative far northern counties long ago got used to feeling ignored in the state Capitol. The idea of forming their own state has been a topic among secession dreamers for more than a century. Residents in two counties will have a chance to vote on that sentiment next week.

Voters in Del Norte and Tehama counties, with a combined population of about 91,000, will decide June 3 on an advisory measure, Measure A, that asks each county’s board of supervisors to join a wider effort to form a 51st state named Jefferson.

Elected officials in Glenn, Modoc, Siskiyou and Yuba counties already voted to join the movement. Supervisors in Butte County will vote June 10, while local bodies in other northern counties are awaiting the June 3 ballot results before deciding what to do. A similar but unrelated question on the primary ballot in Siskiyou County asks voters to rename that county the Republic of Jefferson.

“We have 11 counties up here that share one state senator,” compared to 20 for the greater Los Angeles area and 10 for the San Francisco Bay Area, said Aaron Funk, of Crescent City, a coastal town in Del Norte County near the Oregon border. “Essentially, we have no representation whatsoever.”

The current county secession efforts are advisory, encouraging local officials to further study the idea. The steps involved in trying to become the country’s 51st state are steep, first requiring approval from the state Legislature, then from Congress.

The counties that could opt in — up to 16, according to supporters — make up more than a quarter of the state’s land mass but only a small portion of its population.

The loss of millions of dollars for everything from infrastructure to schools is among the biggest worries of residents who oppose the secession movement. The Del Norte County Board of Education, which receives 90 percent of its funding, or $32 million, from the state, voted to oppose the initiative.

If it passes, Kevin Hendrick worries that local officials will spend years studying how to create a new state rather than tackling concrete problems such as fixing a crumbling highway that is in danger of falling into the ocean.

“It’s a lot of broad promises about things being better and representation being better,” said Hendrick, who is leading foes in Del Norte. “But the more they talk, the less clear it becomes about how that’s actually going to happen.”

It’s also unclear how the new state would pay for federally mandated education, social welfare, health care and other programs or other services residents rely on.



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►