CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- A grassroots effort to create a 51st state is spreading through California and southern Oregon, and it’s now sparking interest in Deschutes and Jefferson counties.
Mark Baird, with the State of Jefferson movement, says they want smaller government and better representation, "What the state of Jefferson hopes to achieve is to create a state where one house of the state legislature will be by county, so communities have some representation. And then, the other house of government will be directed by apportionment, just like it is now; although, the districts will be far smaller." He says that would prevent urban areas from making decisions that impact more sparsely populated areas, "Now, we have a situation, for example, in Oregon, where Portland and Salem have enough political power that they can pass any bill they want anytime they want, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else in the state wants or thinks. Between those two cities, they have more than 51% of the representation in each of the houses of government and none of the rest of us can have any hope for adequate representation." Baird says similar problems arise in his home state of California, "My Senate District One has one State Senator for 11 counties and Los Angeles County has 11 Senators. So, what we hope to achieve in the State of Jefferson is smaller government, with far smaller people in each elected district, so that the representative will have to pay attention to what his voters think."
An informational meeting Thursday evening, hosted by Ranch Matters CRR, offers Central Oregonians a chance to learn how Jefferson and Deschutes Counties could get involved in the movement. That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Crooked River Ranch Juniper Room (5195 Club House Road). Call Ranch Matters CRR at 503-256-1656 for more information.