Rain poured outside the Redding Senior Center on Sunday as over 300 State of Jefferson supporters met to discuss plans to form a new state.
It won't be easy, reminded organizers, but forming the 51st state from Northern California must be done. Redding organizer Terry Rapoza said their movement to form a new state has nothing to do with Oregon.
"Our voices are not being heard," said Win Carpenter, a Shasta County resident who claimed the movement will bring back a fair share of representation to residents of smaller counties.
Carpenter said he has called state representatives to discuss the movement's goals and get the opinions of lawmakers.
"I have spoken to a lot of staffers, but never any of the representatives," said Carpenter, 54, who quit his job as a property appraisor for the county to be part of the Jefferson movement.
The State of Jefferson movement have filed their declaration to form a state with the Secretary of the State. With Shasta County that brings the number to 15 counties as part of the movement. There are over 31,000 support signatures for the movement in Shasta County, according to organizers.
Nine county board of supervisors have signed the declaration in support of the State of Jefferson. Shasta County's board of supervisors have not signed a declaration - they did not listen to a presentation from Jefferson supporters, but organizers said they will not be waiting for them.
It's either form a state through the legal channels or sue. Organizers plan to file a lawsuit against the state of California by the end of this year to allow the formation of Jefferson, which would include 1.7 million residents according to Rapoza, who said this is an educated guess.
"That number could change. People are born that could change that," said Rapoza.
Organizer Mark Baird discussed the movement's legal actions — several Supreme Court decisions will lay out the basis for the State of Jefferson's suit, including representation based on districts.
Baird said past decisions from the Supreme Court will be like "breadcrumbs" that will lead to the State of Jefferson's formation.
Baird spoke close to two hours about the grassroots movement to form a state. He has been involved with the movement since 2013, when organizers received the approval from Siskiyou County supervisors.
Parallels with the conservative, national tea party movement can't be avoided and organizers agree, but say the State of Jefferson is not limited to one political party.
The adopted green palette of the Jefferson movement was paired with camouflage print, black shirts and a few cowboy hats at Sunday's assembly. Around lunch time over 200 were in attendance, but that number grew to 381 by the end of the day.
Like other political conventions the names of county representatives were read off and Baird reminded the audience they will not be popular if the movement gets its way.
"Everyone will hate you if you support the State of Jefferson," Baird said. "But they said the same thing to Jesus Christ. It's in the Gospel."
Chaylen Scrivner, 34, said liberty is in short supply with state lawmakers and he wants the movement to succeed so his voice can be heard.
"Everyone has a say in the State of Jefferson movement," said Scrivner, a heavy equipment mechanic who is employed by the state. When asked if he thinks his job will be jeopardized for supporting the movement he emphatically shook his head no.
Dianna Baird from Placer County joined the movement about three years ago, because of her frustration with the government overtaxing its citizens.
"The governor just wants to bleed us dry," said Baird who is currently employed by Sacramento County. Now she is concerned with employee pensions. She has no relation to the speaker Mark Baird.
She is also fed up with the lack of focus from lawmakers to residents in smaller communities, like Shasta or Placer Counties.
Her husband, Steven Baird made an unsuccessful run for state Senate earlier this year.
Organizers hope the Supreme Court will be the ticket to Jefferson's birth. They predict this happening in the next two years.
On stage Baird referenced Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky and angering a political system. He lamented the loss of liberty and in all the symbolism of the movement, Baird agreed it will be expensive, like paying employees or providing other services.
"It will be expensive," Baird said. "But we'll figure it out."
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