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Jefferson County Republican Party hosts speaker coordinating movement to create 51st state.

JOHN STEVENS FOR THE MADRAS PIONEER - Jefferson County Republicans meet Sept. 19, to hear a local presentation on 'State of Jefferson,' a movement asking counties primarily in Southern Oregon and Northern California to separate and create a 51st state.
Last Wednesday, Sept. 19, the Jefferson County Republican Party hosted an event at the Jefferson County Senior Center that included an interesting guest presenter.

Bob Chard, the state coordinator for the State of Jefferson movement presented a wealth of historical and constitutional information, as well as his rationale for the movement.

Chard spoke for just under an hour, explaining to the audience, that included Jefferson County Commissioner Mae Huston, the movement's key objectives, along with the primary goal of restoring "fairness" within the political process.

Chard stressed that the movement is not about secession, but rather "separation or partition" and the creation of the 51st state.

According to some of the SOJ's literature, the movement asks: Why support the State of Jefferson? "The State of Jefferson is a growing movement to regain representation, by creating a new state from two existing states. This has been done four times in our history. We want to restore our constitutional liberties, reduce growing taxes and regulations, and restore a local-based model of government, where social services, education and natural resources are

handled locally."

Chard discussed how rural counties within the state have "little to no voice" and are not being equally represented, something the movement feels needs to be addressed. He understands and acknowledges that the movement is a tough sell. However, there are growing numbers of individuals and groups getting involved, learning about the group and asking questions.

The 51st state would be funded exclusively by a sales tax, eliminating property taxes and introducing a "business friendly tax structure, encouraging businesses to come set up shop."

Locally, Jefferson County currently has a "working committee" coordinated by Montie P. Soderquist, spearheading a petition drive for the Jefferson County voters that states, "We, the undersigned, support a Declaration and Petition by the Jefferson County Commissioners to withdraw from the State of Oregon."

After Chard's presentation, Huston said she is "not opposed to the

concept, but would like to see support from the majority of the county's registered voters."

Later, Jefferson County Commissioner-elect Kelly Simmelink stated, "I

am interested in learning about the SOJ movement."

Simmelink went on to say, "I encourage guys like Montie to get the public involved to see if it's something people are willing to make a commitment to doing first and foremost."

"I hope that people will get involved and discover for themselves whether

this is the best option, an option or dead on the vine," he said, adding that as a rural citizen, he believes, "Something (whether it is this or not) needs to happen for rural Oregon and California residents to have an equal voice in their state."

For Jefferson County residents seeking more information, contact Soderquist at 503-995-7243 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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