Commissioners in Weld County, Colo., have unanimously voted to make ‘North Colorado’ the 51st US state. The Republican board hopes to secede from the state in protest of laws passed by the Democratically controlled state legislature this year.
The Weld County commissioners on Monday voted to add the 51st state initiative to the ballot this November.
“Si se puede – yes we can,” Weld County Commission Chairman said before the vote, reciting a slogan that President Barack Obama used throughout his presidential campaign. Weld County commissioners voted in favor of the 51ststate initiative after several predominantly Republican counties in northern Colorado expressed their support for a secession in June.
“We’re not pulling away from Colorado, Colorado is pulling away from us,” Keenesburg resident Bruce Sparrow told the Denver Post after attending a 70-person public meeting to discuss plans for a secession.
Most of those who attended the July 29 meeting opposed many the policies that the state legislature has passed, arguing that the will of rural voters is not being represented. They oppose Colorado’s gun control measures, renewable energy initiatives in rural areas, expanded regulation of oil and gas production, and the reduction of ‘cruel treatment’ of livestock. Rural voters are also angry with Amendment 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
“I think people, when they feel disenfranchised, when they feel that their voices are not being heard, I think that’s a problem in a representative form of government,” commissioner Sean Conway said at one of the four meetings held to discuss the initiative.
“If you’re going to start walking on the people that give the government power, then they’re going to start taking that power back,” Frederick resident Travis Showalter told The Denver Post.
Despite the meetings and commissioners’ votes, some believe the secession effort is largely symbolic. No state has seceded since West Virginia pulled away from Virginia in 1863, but many have tried –especially after Obama was reelected last November.
In order for ‘North Colorado’ to secede, the plan would need the statewide support of voters, the General Assembly and the US Congress. But that isn’t stopping rural Colorado residents from trying.
“They want change. They want to be heard,” commission chairman William Garcia told the Washington Post. “Policies being passed in Denver are having negative impacts on the lives of rural Coloradans. This isn’t an ‘R’ versus ‘D’ issue; it’s much bigger than that.”