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Northern California voters consider secession

Posted: June 3, 2014 5:08 p.m.
Updated: June 3, 2014 5:08 p.m.

Tom Knorr, chairman of the Measure A campaign in Tehama County, holds a State of Jefferson flag.

 

RED BLUFF, Calif. (AP) — Voters in California's far northern counties weighed in Tuesday on whether to secede from the state in advisory measures that will gauge sentiment in a region long accustomed to feeling ignored by the Legislature and out of sync with the state's major cities.

Del Norte and Tehama counties, with a combined population of about 91,000, will decide whether to ask their boards of supervisors to join a wider effort to form a 51st state named Jefferson. An identical Measure A is on the ballot in both.

Elected officials in Glenn, Modoc, Siskiyou and Yuba counties already voted to join. Supervisors in Butte County will vote next week, while other neighboring counties are waiting on Tuesday's results before deciding what to do.

A similar but unrelated question on Tuesday's ballot in Siskiyou County asks voters to rename that county the Republic of Jefferson.

The steps to become the country's 51st state are steep, first requiring approval from the state Legislature, then from Congress.

The Northern California counties that could opt in — as many as 16, according to supporters — make up more than a quarter of the state's land mass but only a small slice of its population. The seven counties that have voted or will this month have a combined geographic area twice the size of New Hampshire, with about 467,000 residents.

The terrain spans some of California's most majestic scenery, from rugged coastlines to agriculture-dominated valleys, Mount Shasta and Redwood National Park. Some of its residents are also are among the state's poorest.

Opponents worry that local officials will spend years studying how to create a new state rather than tackling concrete problems such as fixing a state highway that is in constant danger from mudslides.

It's unclear how the new state would pay for federally mandated education, social welfare, health care and other programs or a host of other services residents rely on.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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