Rural County Sets Vote to Secede from Colorado

Friday, August 23, 2013
(photo: ErgoSum88, Wikipedia

Frustrated over decision-making by state lawmakers, leaders of a rural county in northern Colorado want voters to consider seceding and creating a new 51st state.


Weld County commissioners this week approved an initiative for the November ballot that asks voters if they want to break away from the rest of Colorado. Weld County, which includes the city of Greeley, has a population of more than 250,000.


The county is not the only one in the northern part of the state to consider secession. Over the past two months, leaders from Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Yuma and Weld participated in several discussions regarding a statehood initiative.


The common link among the 10 counties is frustration with the Democratic-controlled legislature, which has been accused of ignoring the concerns of northern Coloradoans on issues like gun control, oil and gas drilling and renewable energy.


“The concerns of rural Coloradans have been ignored for years,” Weld County Commissioner Chairman William Garcia said in a statement. “The last session was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many people. They want change. They want to be heard. Policies being passed by the legislature 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.”


Liberals have made fun of the secession talk, saying the new state could be called “Weldistan” or “Fracktopia.”


“It’s embarrassing for them, and it’s embarrassing for the people they represent,” Jason Bane, founder of the blog ColoradoPols, told FOX31 Denver in June. “They complain that the legislature didn’t listen to them—they DID listen to them, but in a Democracy, there are lots of other people who have viewpoints, and they don’t all throw a tantrum just because a vote doesn’t go their way.”


Those favoring seceding face many obstacles. Not only would a majority of voters in Weld have to support the plan, but also voters in the state’s other counties would have a say in the matter. Furthermore, the proposal would require approval from the legislature and the governor in order to petition Congress to create a new state.


If secession fails, the disgruntled counties could consider another plan floated by Phillips County that would change the way state House districts are represented at the Capitol. The proposal would have representatives elected by county, rather than by population.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Residents in Weld County Will Get to Vote on 51st State Question (by Thomas Hendrick, KDVR)

Secession Fever Cools, Rural Colorado Looks to Retool Representation (by Adrian D. Garcia, Denver Post)

Rural Colorado Counties Want to Secede to Create ‘North Colorado’ (by Thomas Hendrick and Eli Stokols, KDVR)

Northeastern Colorado Is Getting Ready to Secede (by Matt Berman, National Journal)

Texas Leads States Petitioning to Secede; Georgia and Louisiana Follow (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

California Joins Secession Movement (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)


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