Aspiring residents of the proposed State of Jefferson, many wearing matching “Don’t Tread on Me” yellow and green T-shirts, filled the Redding City Council chambers Tuesday to make their case for a 51st state.
They filed out, disappointed but obviously undaunted, following the council’s 3-2 vote not to follow in the footsteps of supervisors in Siskiyou and Modoc counties who adopted declarations supporting the group’s desire to withdraw from California and form a new state.
“If we’re told no, we’ll be back again and again. And our children will be back,” vowed Robert Smith, a father of three who called the withdrawal movement “a vitally important fight.”
Raising the oft-repeated refrain that north state residents lack adequate representation in Sacramento, Roger Sherwood called state capitol politicians “ignorant” and said the “big-city mentality can’t help us here.”
The State of Jefferson idea is spreading like wildfire, said Lon Currey. “There are hundreds, if not thousands, working on this movement and it’s only been alive for three weeks. You’ll want to be on the boat before it sails. We just want your vote of approval.”
Vice Mayor Patrick Jones, who requested the council consider a declaration in support of a north-south split, argued forcefully in favor of a new state. Of utmost concern, he said, is California’s steady assault on private gun ownership—an issue he’s all too familiar with as the proprietor of a gun shop.
“I can tell you without hesitation your firearms rights are under attack,” Jones said. It’s not just guns, he added. The steady bombardment of industry-strangling restrictions are driving job-producing businesses out of the state and taking young people with them.
“There’s no way to win in Sacramento today…we will never be recognized in the north state,” Jones said. “There are two options: move or split the state.” The State of Jefferson “is going to be the freest state in the nation. What’s life without freedom? It’s nothing,” Jones concluded, prompting a standing ovation.
Councilman Gary Cadd, who joined Jones in voting in favor of the declaration of support, also engendered a rowdy response by predicting even more onerous regulations en route from the capitol including a “groundwater extraction charge” aimed at rural residents who rely on wells.
“It’s about time we get hoppin’ mad and start making changes. Should we form our own government? Sure it will be hard. Are you ready for a challenge?” Cadd asked to robust applause.
Mayor Rick Bosetti changed the tenor of the chambers from cheers to groans when he noted that the same Southern California lawmakers and Sacramento politicians forcing these objectionable laws and regulations down the throats of rural cities and counties are the same ones who would need to OK the separation of California into two states.
“I’m not going to support this because I don’t think it’s the city’s fight,” Bosetti said.
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.