It’s been almost 60 years since the United States introduced a new state into the union (Hawaii in 1959), but if a group of Northern Californians and Southern Oregonians have their way, we may see a 51st star added to the flag.
The State of Jefferson, as it would be known, would be an amalgamation of rural counties focused on restoring limited, locally focused government at the state level that takes into account issues that effect the bucolic communities of which the state would consist.
On Tuesday, the Siskiyou County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors voted to support the county’s split from the state, in the presence of over 100 people who almost unanimously supported the secession.
Mark Baird, resident of Scott Valley, has been leading the movement to unite Northern Californian and Southern Oregonian counties as a new state, and insisted Tuesday “We have to have government that’s local, understands our issues and has empathy” for people like them.
Erin Ryan, field representative for Rep. Doug LaMalfa, was also in attendance. When asked for the congressman's opinion, she said that she and other LaMalfa staff members supported the secession, but she did not know LaMalfa’s thoughts on it.
The discussion brought members of groups from nearby Shasta and Tehama counties who are also looking to begin the process of secession.
“It would be the only way I could see everyone coming together in a positive manner,” said Tom Moller of Red Bluff.
Also there was Kayla Brown, a mother in her early 20s, who said she didn't want to raise her child in California.
“The state of Jefferson is the place I want to raise my son,” she said.
Board Chair Ed Valenzuela was the sole vote against the declaration, arguing he was elected to solve problems within the syste, not undermine it.
”It comes down to because I took an oath. I took an oath when I ran for re-election, which I just did, and that was to uphold the Constitution, and uphold the constitution of the state of California,” he said. “And within that, and because knowing what it's like to be a minority, I know the value of having to work from the other side without the numbers and without support. I signed on to do that, I signed on to work within the system I know. I don't like it, I don't agree with it all the time but at the same token, I did sign up for that and I will continue to do so.”