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Siskiyou County votes to pursue secession from California

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It's the Golden State's latest version of the Great Secession.

Fed up by Sacramento's regulations and Southern California's political sway, residents in one rural Northern California county are taking steps to leave the state.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted, 4-1, on Tuesday to pursue seceding from California, the Redding Record Searchlight reported. Proponents say Siskiyou should form a new state -- called Jefferson -- with other counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon they believe share similar interests.

On Tuesday more than 100 people filled the supervisors' chambers, many of whom indicated support for the declaration, the Searchlight reported. When a speaker asked those in the audience who was in favor, "nearly every hand in the room was raised," the newspaper said.

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

"The state of Jefferson is the place I want to raise my son," Kayla Brown said.

Resident complaints include a lack of representation in Sacramento and insufficient attention to major issues for the county, such as water rights and a rural fire prevention fee, the Searchlight reported.

"We have to have government that's local, understands our issues and has empathy," said Mark Baird, a rancher who the Searchlight said was heading the effort.

Supervisor Marcia Armstrong cited restoration of limited government as one of the reasons she supported the declaration.

"We also have this enormous bureaucracy of unelected officials making decisions for us," she said.

Supervisor Ed Valenzuela, who chairs the board, was the only vote against the decision, the Searchlight said. He cited the oath he took upon his reelection to "uphold the Constitution and uphold the constitution of the state of California."

"I signed on to work within the system I know," he said. "I don't like it, I don't agree with it all the time, but ... I did sign up for that and I will continue to do so."

Neighboring counties, which would be invited to join Jefferson, are also weighing secession. Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn told the Times-Standard that his board would probably meet to consider their options.

"I was one of the people who thinks the state of Jefferson wasn't a bad idea," he told the newspaper. "There has been a total lack of respect of our water rights and the fire fee. Those things may not be important to the rest of the state, but it's important to us."

Secession efforts within California date back to the 1800s. The most recent high-profile attempt came in 2011, when Riverside County officials weighed a proposal to pursue the establishment of  "South California," which would have seen 13 counties leave the Golden State.

[For the Record, 1:50 p.m. PDT Sept. 4: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn's comments on the state of Jefferson to the Redding Record Searchlight. They were made to the Times-Standard.]

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kate.mather@latimes.com

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