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Northern California county votes for secession from state

  • In this Feb. 20, 2008 file photo, pedestrians cross Miner Street in Yreka, Calif., Feb. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

YREKA — Supervisors in a far Northern California county where residents are fed up with what they see as a lack of representation at the state capitol and overregulation have voted in favor of separating from the state.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday for a declaration of secession, the Record Searchlight of Redding reported (http://bit.ly/1cFTqUG ). The vote appears mostly symbolic since secession would require approval from the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress, but supporters say it would restore local control over decision making. They want other rural counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon to join them in the creation of a new state called the State of Jefferson.

"Many proposed laws are unconstitutional and deny us our God-given rights," Gabe Garrison of Happy Camp said at the meeting. "We need our own state so we can make laws that fit our way of life."

Garrison was among more than 100 people who attended the meeting, and most were in support of the declaration, according to the Record Searchlight.

The declaration does not launch any type of formal process toward secession, but only reflects the county's support, said Tom Odom, the county's administrative officer.

The idea to create the separate state of Jefferson goes back decades. It gained momentum in 1941, when the mayor of a southern Oregon town called on counties in the region and their neighbors in California to form a new state. The goal was to raise attention to the region's poor roads.

The movement became popular, especially in Siskiyou County, where residents have long felt that their concerns are overshadowed by more populated parts of California. It was shelved after the attack at Pearl Harbor, though its spirit lives on today.

Another proposal that came up two years ago in Riverside County called on more than a dozen mostly conservative counties to break off and form the state of South California.

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