Another county votes to secede from California

A second California county votes to secede, form state of Jefferson, because proportional representation is unfair.

Another county votes to secede from California
A statue in the Yreka Historic District in Yreka, Siskiyou County, California. (CC/DCoetzee)

Earlier this month, Siskiyou County in northern California voted to secede and form the state of Jefferson, and now another county has voted to join them.

Modoc County supervisors voted 4-0 in favor of secession on Tuesday. Modoc County Board Chairwoman Geri Byrne said that at a "packed" public meeting of about 40 people, just two spoke against secession.


Some people in northern California and southern Oregon have long pushed for uniting to form the state of Jefferson, based on small-government ideals purportedly professed by founding father Thomas Jefferson.

In California in particular, rural residents are upset over water rights, and say the $150 fire prevention fees for rural residents are unfair.

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Byrne said her constituents are "frustrated," because rural counties have "no voice in the state of California."

Those who support secession believe urban California has an unfair advantage in Sacramento, where both legislative houses are elected proportionally. California's 33 rural counties make up just 9 percent of the state's population.

"People in LA have no clue what we face," Byrne said. "We don't tell people in Los Angeles how to manage crime, so why should they tell us how to farm potatoes?"


Liz Bowen of the Jefferson Declaration Committee says Senate District 1 covers 10 counties, including Modoc and Siskiyou. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles metro area has 18 Senate districts.

Bowen believes this is inherently unfair. "So many laws, rules and regulations have been placed on us that our freedom has been eroded," she said.

Mark Lovelace, a district supervisor in nearby Humboldt County says the secession movement "is a cry for help, but there needs to be a reality check."

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Rural California receives more money from the state than it provides, and if those counties secede, the state of Jefferson would have to impose heftier taxes than residents have already to maintain current spending.

Humboldt County has a meeting scheduled Friday to discuss secession, but Lovelace says it's a "romantic idea" and "not economically viable."

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