State of Jefferson Amasses 21 Total Counties

By Katy Grimes

Successfully amassing support in 21 California counties, proponents of the State of Jefferson movement took their petitions to the Secretary of State and the State Legislature Wednesday.

Channeling Howard Beale, from the 1976 movie “Network,” State of Jefferson supporters might as well have chanted, “I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

And fed up they are.

California’s northern most counties are suffering from a lack of representation in the state Legislature. Twenty Northern California counties have 6 state level representatives, while the southern 38 counties have 114 state representatives.

The State of Jefferson, attempting to create a sovereign state out of Northern California,  plans to remedy this lack of representation by seeking reforms, such as one senator per county, or by creating a new state—the 51st state.

State of Jefferson is a proposed U.S. state that would span the contiguous and mostly rural area of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Supporters of the State of Jefferson movement are interested in forming an independent state whose fundamental framework revolves around maintaining the integrity of individual liberties, and Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

How Underrepresented?

There are 11 counties in the north state with one state senator, while Los Angeles County alone has 11 senators. And, Northern California has three out of 80 seats in the California Assembly.

If Jefferson becomes a state, it would hold a population of 1.7 million people and consist of California’s 21 northernmost counties, according to the State of Jefferson committee.

Leadership

I spoke with Mark Baird, spokesman for the State of Jefferson committee, who says the committee and supporters are focused on one single issue: Jefferson Statehood Sovereignty. “We want all counties who feel unrepresented to have a chance to join the State of Jefferson,” Baird said. “What we want is a state senator for each county, because once we changed to apportionment schemes for both houses our debt skyrocketed, and we lost representation.” SOJ wants to return to the Federal Model of government, which existed in 30 states prior to 1964.

Baird hopes to be able to get one senator for each county, but doesn’t hold out false hope this will happen via the California Legislature. So far, the Legislature has largely ignored the State of Jefferson movement, despite support from so many county boards of supervisors’ voting to join SOJ. “This is the day they can’t ignore us,” Baird said, upon delivery of 15 more counties. And if the Legislature continues to ignore State of Jefferson, “they make the case for us by ignoring us,” Baird said. “We will force them to expand representation, or we will split from the state. Nothing less will do,” Baird added.

“Whose government is this?” rally spokesman Terry Rapoza asked the crowd of hundreds on the West steps of the State Capitol Wednesday. “OURS!” the crowd roared back.

“When we elect people, we expect them…” he led… “TO REPRESENT US,” the crowd answered.

Simple? Perhaps. But these folks say they have virtually no representation. And most could not pick their elected Senator Ted Gaines of Rocklin in Placer County out of a lineup, they say.

Rapoza said he talked to Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, two years ago about the State of Jefferson, and asked him if he had a better way to help get better representation to the north state. Nothing was advanced.

State of Jefferson wants:

  • To elect its own 2 U.S. Senators and Congressional representatives;
  • To elect its own Governor, State Senate and Assembly, based on Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution;
  • Make Jefferson a business friendly state with common sense tax laws and no state corporate income taxes;
  • Property Taxes to stay in State of Jefferson and more specifically its counties;
  • Laws to hold elected representatives accountable to its people;
  • Reduce the 570 state agencies and bureaucracies currently in California;
  • Constitutionally based laws;
  • Utilization of its natural resources – timber, water, farming, mining, hunting and fishing; and
  • A revamping of Social Services.