On Thursday, Modoc and Siskiyou counties in California, adjacent to Oregon, formally requested state officials to allow them to secede from the state and form a new state to be called Jefferson, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The two counties’ governments directly petitioned the secretaries of the state Assembly and Senate after they had already submitted a petition to the secretary of state asserting that they weren’t represented strongly enough in the state.
Mark Baird organized a rally at the state capitol that drew 70 supporters with flags and T-shirts displaying two X’s and a coiled snake that said “State of Jefferson. Don’t tread on me.” He told the supporters of secession that if they succeeded, as many as 10 counties in the state “would be free to create a small state with limited government… We don’t need government from a state telling people in a county what to do with their resources and their children’s education. You are better equipped to educate your children than the state or federal government.”
After the rally, roughly 10 of the people at the rally made their way past lobbyists in the capitol to deliver the secession petitions to the clerks’ offices. Baird acknowledged, “We fully expect to be ignored.”
Modoc and Siskiyou are not alone; six counties have already approved secession through their votes or their elected officials, and more petitions are assumed to be forthcoming. Secession for two separate counties was on the ballot in the June primary; Tehama county voters approved it, but Del Norte county voters voted against it.
Now that the secession petitions have been filed, the legal case for the secessionists has been initiated. Because the petitioners for secession claim the U.S. Constitution allows such an action to be taken, they assert that if they are dismissed by legislators, they can file suit against the state government.
Brandon Criss, a Siskiyou County supervisor who supports secession, rejected critics’ assertions that the petition is misguided. They claim that because the counties have a combined population of 53,000 and thus a low tax base, basic services would be endangered. He said, “It would reawaken the rural economy if it were unleashed from urban control. California has over 500 government agencies micromanaging the people.” He added that residents would be able to figure out how to solve any problems.
Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper recently gathered signatures on a petition for a ballot initiative that would divide California into six separate states, one of which would be called Jefferson. If Draper gets enough signatures, the petition could be on the 2016 ballot. Baird likes Draper’s sentiments but avers that Draper’s petition lacks legal standing.