On June 3, voters in California’s northern counties will have the opportunity to take their intention to form the nation’s 51st state, “Jefferson,” one step closer to reality.
Voters in Del Norte and Tehama counties–with a population of roughly 91,000 residents–will decide if they would like to join Glenn, Modoc, Siskiyou, and Yuba counties in forming an advisory board to explore the creation of “Jefferson” state, according to the Associated Press.
As many as 16 Northern California counties could opt into the effort to secede from the Golden State amid complaints from the region’s residents. They claim they “have no representation whatsoever,” citing the fact that there is only one state senator for 11 of the region’s counties, compared to 20 in greater Los Angeles and 10 in San Francisco’s Bay Area.
Questions surrounding how “Jefferson” state would pay for a host of federally-mandated and State of California-funded programs have crowded the discussion. “Jefferson” opponents worry that, if the initiative to secede passes, years will be wasted by local officials on how to create a new state, rather than solving more imminent issues, such as “fixing a crumbling highway that is in danger of falling into the ocean,” cites the AP.
But proponents of the move are looking to the region’s natural resources-such as water, forests, timber, and minerals-which they say would make “Jefferson… the wealthy state, if we were allowed to go back and use our natural resources ourselves.”
Even if “Jefferson” were to become its own state, the majority of the land on which it sits–which so far boasts a combined geographic area twice the size of New Hampshire and which houses almost 500,000 residents–would remain under federal control.