State of Jefferson vote delayed in Josephine County

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — Josephine County Commissioners have been talking about a ballot initiative that would ask its voters if they want to leave the state.

Commissioners were going to put an advisory question on the ballot this Fall.

As proposed, it would ask citizens how they feel about Southern Oregon and Northern California becoming the 51st state…. known as the state of Jefferson.

However, because of many other issues right now like wildfires, they’re considering to wait until next year to get that answer.

“I’m not interested in doing something that the will of the community is not to support,” said Josephine County Commissioner, Lily Morgan.

Morgan has served as Vice Chair of the Josephine County Board of Commissioners since 2016.

Even before being elected, she’s been involved in the ongoing debate of Southern Oregon and Northern California becoming the 51st state, succeeding from their own states, and becoming the state of Jefferson.

“So, Salem…there’s so much population in Oregon is based in Portland and the Willamette Valley that the rest of the state does not feel like they get the equal representation.”

Morgan says they were considering putting an advisory question on the ballot this year asking Josephine County residents whether they supported the idea, but she says it just wasn’t the right time.

“And really because of the fires and everything going on right now, it did not seem appropriate to even discuss it,” she said.

Although wildfires in Southern Oregon are delaying the vote, Morgan says the topic of wildfires and the state of Jefferson are related.

“It’s about representation and it’s about having a voice and being able to use your natural resources,” she said.

Morgan says those natural resources are what’s burning up from wildfires.

“The ability to do healthy forest management…to keep these fires small. To harvest in a way that would pay for prevention and pay for fire fighting. There is a way to do this without going into debt,” she said.

For now, Morgan says they will delay the vote until may 2019, but that doesn’t mean a citizen-led initiative couldn’t get started before then.

It should be noted this ballot measure would only gauge people’s feelings about the split. It wouldn’t actually put the split in motion, and it would also take an act of congress for it to ever become a reality.

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