If you are a member of the conservative minority in a State notorious for liberal politics, you probably have a great deal in common with the residents of Weld County, Colo., a community taking radical steps to attempt to distance itself from State policies antithetical to conservatism.
The Weld County Commission, expressing concern that agriculture, oil and gas, and Constitutional rights are under attack from the Colorado State Legislature, have decided to attempt something that hasn’t been done since West Virginia was born at the height of the Civil War in 1863.
It has issued a proposal asking local voters to decide:
“Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the 51st state of the United States of America?”
Currently, four northern Colorado counties, including Weld, Sedgwick, Yuma and Cheyenne, have decided to let voters decide if the State will split, forming a new State called North Colorado. Another seven counties are seriously considering following suit.
Lawmakers in the Colorado counties who support secession from the State say the need for a split stems from the State government’s mishandling and misunderstanding of rural issues in the Centennial State.
“Last year we were in the midst of a drought. We also were having horrible fires in our mountain areas. The Governor declared a state of emergency for the fires and was able to use the high mountain reservoirs, the water out of the high mountain reservoirs to help put out the fires…We asked him to declare a drought and a statewide emergency for here in Weld County…so that we could turn on the wells and take that water out of the, the same water, only it’s an underground reservoir, and use it for the drought. We were told no,” Weld County District 3 Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer said, referencing one grievance her local government has with the State leadership.
Seventy Weld County residents who attended a July 29 meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a new State for rural Coloradoans also expressed opposition to the State Legislature’s gun control measures, renewable energy initiatives in rural areas, expanded regulation of oil and gas production, and the reduction of “cruel treatment” of livestock.
“We’re not pulling away from Colorado, Colorado is pulling away from us,” Keenesburg resident Bruce Sparrow told The Denver Post after that meeting.
Liberal Colorado residents have mercilessly mocked the conservative effort, suggesting that the new State be called “Weldistan,” “Tancredonia” or “Fracktopia.”
One commentary on the blog ColoradoPols said of the plan:
Call us quaint, but we’re shocked to see elected county commissioners seriously talking about such a patently ridiculous idea. Even in the case of Weld County commissioners, it’s an escalation of a series of increasingly politically far-out positions, after already facing controversy over their decision to stop offering emergency contraceptives at county health clinics. Weld County’s Sheriff John Cooke, as we’ve noted in this space, has embraced undeniably extreme positions on guns, the very issue upsetting the commissioners–such as repealing the post-Columbine Amendment 22 gun show background check law, and even repealing all instant federal background checks for gun sales. There seems to be a real breakdown of rationality in Weld County, among officials who wield considerable power. It’s embarrassing, but also kind of fascinating to watch.
For the idea of a 51st State bearing the name North Colorado to become reality, proponents will have to endure an uphill battle. In order for the residents to succeed and successfully form a new State, they will have to first win the support of Colorado voters as well as the blessings of both the Colorado General Assembly and the United States Congress.