Could northern California soon become the 51st state? Two northern California counties have voted to secede from the Golden State in a bid to form their own state.
The Modoc County Board of Supervisors recently voted to join neighboring Siskiyou County in its effort to secede from California and recreate the State of Jefferson — named after Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president and the author of the Declaration of Independence.
“I put the measure on the agenda because I heard from a number of people in my district that wanted to do such,” said Board Chairman Geri Byrne. “We’re not saying we’re seceding today, we’re saying let’s look into it.”
“We are delighted to have Modoc County join Siskiyou in seeking to establish the formation of a new state,” said Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong. “Modoc County has validated our belief that the current state of California is ungovernable and its policies are unrepresentative of the needs and values of Northern California communities.”
Armstrong argues that people in the rural counties of northern California and southern Oregon aren’t being heard by their state governments as their voices are being continually drowned out by the growing influence of urban areas.
Furthermore, large portions of northern California, especially Siskiyou County, is owned by the federal government, which means that local residents have little say in how the area’s natural resources are used.
“It is a fact that we have little input into decisions affecting us,” she writes. “We have no clout in how state resources are allocated to meet our needs and very little to say about the myriad regulations and fees under which we are struggling. It also seems that California bureaucrats are succeeding in some perverse quest to replace local elected government with unelected regional planning and management councils.”
The State of Jefferson is not a new movement. One such effort came in 1941 when Oregon and California counties pushed to create their own state, but the effort died with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the onset of World War II.
In order to form a new state, the U.S. Constitution requires that “no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”
The current movement is looking to get a dozen counties to ask the California State legislature for permissions to create a new state, according to the Jefferson Declaration Committee.
“California is essentially ungovernable in its present size,” said Mark Baird, the group’s spokesman. “We lack the representation to address the problems that affect the North State. We’re looking for 12 counties, though we can certainly do it with less.”
Most of the populous counties of northern California have not joined the secessionist movement, though Shasta County and the city of Redding — the most populous north of Sacramento — are considering a vote on the subject.
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