California Gold Rush hotbed Siskiyou County votes to secede and form state of ‘Jefferson’
By Arturo Garcia
Leaders of a rural Northern California county are inviting communities in both California and Oregon to join them after voting on Tuesday to pursue seceding from the state.
The Redding Record Searchlight reported that the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to form their own state, “Jefferson,” in a 4-1 vote, citing a lack of representation at the state level and complaints about a $150 fire prevention fee for homeowners in smaller counties like Siskiyou.
More than 100 residents reportedly packed the meeting, most of them supporting the decision. Only Board Chair Ed Valenzuela voted against the move, arguing that he was elected to uphold the current California state constitution.
“I signed on to work within the system I know,” the Los Angeles Times quoted Valenzuela as saying. “I don’t like it, I don’t agree with it all the time, but I did sign up for that and I will continue to do so.”
The Times also reported that officials in at least one neighboring county, Humboldt County, is considering a similar plan.
“I was one of the people who thinks the state of Jefferson wasn’t a bad idea,” Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn told the Record Searchlight. “There has been a total lack of respect of our water rights and the fire fee. Those things may not be important to the rest of the state, but it’s important to us.”
Staff members for Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), who represents the area in Congress, were also reportedly at the meeting to support the board’s decision, but said whether he also backed the plan.
Supporters of the plan to secede argued that the proposed state would include not only Siskiyou County — which became a hotbed of activity during the California Gold Rush era after a gold strike in 1851 — but counties in both northern California and southern Oregon.
Click on the link in the first sentence to go to the Wikipedia page, it has some interesting background on the history of this movement.