Del Norte County supervisors decide to put the new-state question to voters on June 3 ballot

Del Norte County supervisors decided Tuesday to allow voters to weigh in on the potential creation of a new state.

But instead of leaving the new state's name ambiguous - as Tehama County supervisors did earlier this month - Del Norte supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of a measure that explicitly named the new state "Jefferson." Supervisors David Finigan and Martha McClure dissented.

Supervisors will meet today at a 3 p.m. workshop exploring how forming a new state would affect the county's budget and ability to provide services.

"We are here today having this discussion because of people becoming galvanized and involved and moving the process to a level we're at where we're even having a workshop on Thursday," said Supervisor Roger Gitlin, acknowledging the Del Norte County Jefferson State Declaration Committee. "Credit given where credit is deserved. To the organizers of Jefferson State, you've done a good job."

The advisory measure will be on the June 3 primary ballot, an action that will cost about $4,000, said county Administrative Officer Jay Sarina.

Del Norte's resolution cites previous Jefferson state movements in 1941 and 1992 and states that the Board of Supervisors wants to voice its opinion on the current movement. The board would still have to vote on a declaration to withdraw from California for Del Norte to be counted among the other counties supporting Jefferson.

Before he cast his dissenting vote, Finigan said he would support the advisory measure if it mirrored Tehama's and didn't name the new state. Some residents in Tehama County didn't want to be identified with the current Jefferson state movement, he said.

Finigan said he agreed with many that Del Norte and other rural Northern California counties are underrepresented. But he mentioned a Legislative Analysts Office report regarding a different Jefferson state named in a Silicon Valley-based proposal to split California into six states. That Jefferson state would include Del Norte County and several other Northern California counties. The report, Finigan said, shows that version of Jefferson state would be destitute.

"I think we should leave out "state of Jefferson" because No. 1, the facts and figures show Jefferson is not feasible as presented and No. 2, some people don't like the name Jefferson," he said. "I would love for people to have the opportunity to vote, but I would ask the makers of the motion to remove state of Jefferson to give the broadest perspective and the most latitude."

McClure said she doesn't oppose people getting to vote on the issue, but she said they need to be more informed first. She again asked her colleagues to defer the matter until after today's workshop, but was unable to make a motion due to her earlier motion to table the issue failing at the Board's Feb. 11 meeting.

McClure complained that the advisory measure isn't going to require a thorough fiscal analysis on the Jefferson state formation. She also worried that the issue could create a rift in the community.

"A divided community is not a community that attracts business," McClure said. "It's not a community that asks people to stay and be involved."

The proposed advisory measure drew mixed reactions from residents at the meeting, many of whom urged supervisors to use the Jefferson name. Others asked the board to defer its decision until after the workshop.

"Quite frankly I feel like you're putting the cart before the horse, especially when you don't know how to write (the measure)," said Norma Williams, president of the Del Norte County Employees Association. "And quite honestly I am very very concerned as to what kind of data and information county staff comes up with and what its impact is going to be on the public employees who work for the county and provide services to the county."

Paul McAndrews, a member of the Del Norte Tea Party Patriots, presented supervisors with a declaration from the organization in support of Jefferson state.

"We're not being committed to anything," McAndrews said. "Getting the details figured out is something that's going to have to be done as we go along, plain and simple."

Three counties, Siskiyou, Modoc and Glenn, have approved declarations to withdraw from the state of California. Jefferson state proponents hope to present petitions to supervisors in Yuba and Sutter counties soon.

The Del Norte supervisors' informational workshop will be held at 3 p.m. at the Flynn Administrative Center, 981 H St., in Crescent City.

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