The State of Jefferson wants you.
The local Tea Party Patriots chapter hosted Mark Baird before a packed house at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds on Tuesday night.
He said Northern California needs to separate from the rest of the state and join select counties in Southern Oregon to form the State of Jefferson due to a lack of representation in Sacramento.
Baird is seeking 12 California counties to sign a declaration informing California and the rest of the nation that they wants to break up.
Supervisors for Modoc and Siskiyou counties recently voted in favor of the idea, but the Redding City Council rejected it.
The State of Jefferson concept reached its zenith in 1941 when Northern Californians and Southern Oregonians banded together, even declaring a governor. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, the idea gave way to a focus on national patriotism.
“We want to form a state where we can start over,” said Baird, clad in a camouflage hat with a snake above the words, “Don’t Tread on Me,” a Carhartt long-sleeve shirt and blue jeans. “This is an achievable thing.”
He said far-Northern California lacks representation in Sacramento, and its residents’ issues and needs are not being properly addressed. Instead, urban areas are dictating how the rest of the state is living because they have a majority of the representation.
Far-Northern California essentially has three legislative districts covering a huge geographic area.
The crowd was receptive to Baird’s oration as he drew on theoretical solutions to address the complexities of actually re-marking boundaries within the United States.
Pelican Bay State Prison? Well, make a deal with California to give the prison infrastructure to Jefferson in exchange for 10 years of free operations.
Economy? A unidentified Silicon Valley businessman — Baird said he tried hard to get his name but couldn’t — said he’d move his business to Jefferson because doing business in California is too regulated. Retooled and sustainable milling could also support the economy.
The kick-start? Well, Jefferson would be given the money that California would have normally received for the counties.
State Police? Forget about it. Local sheriff’s deputies and police will do the work.
Legislators? The new state would only need part-time legislators, who would be volunteers stepping up to ensure Jefferson’s needs are met in the nation’s capital. Then they could go home and do their real jobs like the rest of the Jeffersonians.
He harked back to a past Del Norte when lumber and fishing were abundant. He drew toward a conservative, religious background by separating the ideals of rural and urban Californians, using a recently approved transgender support bill as his lynchpin.
He spoke about the difficulty of living in a regulated California while also preaching that far-Northern Californians have the constitution to weather the challenges that would be brought forth by establishing a new state. They have a work ethic and do-it-yourself mentality that could ensure a better future for their children, he said.
“We’re tough people,” said Baird. “We cut our own fire wood.”
Baird was on a roll and had the audience’s ear and applause.
He is calling on Del Norters to petition the Board of Supervisors to sign a declaration demanding separation from the state.
Supervisor Roger Gitlin introduced Baird and praised his ideas.
“Sacramento is deaf and dumb and blind” to Del Norte issues, said Gitlin.
Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen also was in attendance. In an interview with the Triplicate on Wednesday, he agreed with Baird that there is a lack of rural representation in Sacramento.
“I’m leaving an open mind about the whole thing,” said Hemmingsen. “It’s up to the people.”
Supervisor David Finigan didn’t mince words in an interview with the Triplicate on Wednesday.
“My position hasn’t changed since the last time,” said Finigan. “The only way you effect change is forming partnerships ... you don’t take your ball and go home and that’s what the State of Jefferson is all about.”
Finigan said educating urban and suburban areas about the issues facing rural California and keeping an open dialogue with other politicians in Sacramento is important for the future of Del Norte.