State of Jefferson, Keep It California to square off at Nevada County public meeting | TheUnion.com

State of Jefferson, Keep It California to square off at Nevada County public meeting

Keri Brenner
Staff Writer

An apparent showdown may be in store next month when the State of Jefferson meets Keep It California at a public meeting of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

Supporters of Keep it California PAC, a new political action committee formed to oppose the creation of a State of Jefferson, said this week they plan to attend a presentation by State of Jefferson leaders at 1:30 p.m. May 12, at the county's Rood administration building, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.

Keep It California won't be asking for equal time, since the supervisors will not be taking a vote at the May 12 meeting on whether to support the State of Jefferson.

They do plan, however, to participate in the question and answer session, or in a public comment period, said Margaret Joehnck, Nevada County coordinator for Keep It California.

"We'll be there, and we'll be making statements during the Q&A," said Joehnck, of Lake of the Pines. "We'll also prepare some materials, in case there's any need for further information."

State of Jefferson leaders in Nevada County could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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According to Keep It California spokesperson Kevin Hendrick, the PAC was formed April 7 during a meeting in Redding.

Officers were elected and plans were made to form a local coordinating committee "in every county where State of Jefferson proponents are active," Hendrick said.

The PAC also "has volunteers in 20 counties building these committees to monitor and respond to any incursions by Jefferson proponents," he added.

Hendrick, PAC vice chair, was director of the Keep It California campaign in Del Norte County, which defeated the proposed State of Jefferson on an advisory ballot measure in June 2014.

He said this week that the group's focus going forward will be financial projections — in other words, to illustrate how much money would be lost by breaking away from California.

"It appears obvious that, in forming a separate state, we would lose millions and millions of California funding, with no plan to replace it," he said. "If you take all the poorest rural counties together, it would be hard to imagine that we'd get more money (than is currently coming in)."

The Del Norte ballot measure lost when 58 percent of voters voted "no" to the State of Jefferson.

Keep It California Campaign Chair Cindy Ellsmore said the PAC, which is nonpartisan, has a similar goal as the State of Jefferson group in terms of strengthening representation for rural California counties.

However, the group believes that goal should be accomplished within the existing California framework, not by forming a new state.

"Our mission is to advocate for better representation of rural California and to oppose breaking away to form a new state," Ellsmore said.

In February, Nevada County Supervisor Chair Ed Scofield agreed to allow an hour-long presentation on the State of Jefferson to be placed on the agenda in May. Since then, State of Jefferson supporters have spoken out at county board meetings during the public comment periods, outlining their reasons for wanting a separate state for rural counties.

They claim that state lawmakers ignore the rural counties in favor of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento in regard to funding, services, legislation and programs.

Hendrick, of Del Norte County, said he agrees the rural counties need a stronger voice in state government circles, but he doesn't think lawmakers are deliberately stiffing the rural part of the state.

"If you're a legislator, you think about L.A., not Modoc County," he said. "They're not picking on us — they're just not aware."

Former congressional candidate Heidi Hall of Nevada County said this week she was "involved" in Keep It California but not serving as an officer or coordinator.

Local State of Jefferson leaders include Eddie Garcia of Nevada County, a frequent attendee at the county Board of Supervisors meetings and a recent graduate of the inaugural Nevada County Citizen's Academy.

"We only request that a position be based on an honest review of the facts and an open discussion of the accumulated information," Garcia said in a March 7 "Other Voices" piece in The Union, referring to the reasoning behind the May 12 county board presentation.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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