San Bernadino, California secession movement advances with vote to explore the possibility of splitting with the coast.
By Eileen Griffin
San Bernardino County voters approved a ballot measure seeking to secede from the state of California.
With this vote, residents directed county officials to research the possibility of establishing a new state separate from the state of California.
Bigger than Nine States
Although secession is a longshot, the vote in the November 8 election is an important indicator of voter sentiment, write Associated Press (AP) reporters Michael Blood, Jae Hong, and Amy Taxin.
“Still, it’s significant that the vote came from a racially and ethnically diverse county that is politically mixed, as well as the fifth-most populous in the state and the largest in the nation by area,” write the AP reporters. “San Bernardino’s 20,000 square miles (51,800 square kilometers) is composed of more land than nine states.”
Curt Hagman, chair of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, told the AP there is frustration with the financial management of the state, including concern federal and state dollars are not spent fairly and not enough money gets to the county.
Voters are frustrated with growing homelessness and crime, while residents pay some of the highest tax rates in the country.
There is also conflict within the state between the typically rural and agricultural interests of the Inland Empire and urban coastal communities.
Efforts have been made to separate parts of California 220 times in the 172-year history of the state, Fox News reports.
Coastal Problems Spill Over
Homelessness and crime has been on the rise, resulting in San Bernardino joining Los Angeles and Oakland as the most dangerous cities in the United States, Fox News reports.
San Bernardino resident Jeff Blum, who participated in the secession effort, told Fox News residents felt that their communities were neglected while state funds went elsewhere. Blum said state revenues were not sent to San Bernardino, yet officials in Sacramento continue to issue mandates on the city and county without proper funding to support them.
Secession efforts in California and other states are indicative a wider trend, Chuck DeVore, a former California legislator, currently with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told Fox News.
“These secession efforts are a symptom of a problem well known at the national level: a powerful and distant government that, in the best case, ignores the needs of disfavored communities or, more commonly, seems to go out of its way to make life difficult for them,” said DeVore.
The trend of Californians leaving California has grown since the 1990s.
More people have left California than moved in to the state, The Sun reported earlier this year. In 2020, 650,000 people moved out of the state.
Costs are often cited as a strong motivator to move. California has high taxes, expensive homes, and higher costs for things like gas and utilities. In more recent years, crime and other quality of life issues have driven the exodus.
“Although California is a natural paradise, it also is plagued by various forms of social disorder, including, in many places, crime, vandalism, and scandalous levels of homelessness,” states The Sun.
‘Back to American Values’
Residents of San Bernardino are hoping the secession will result in an improved financial situation and an improvement in the quality of life.
Kristin Wagoner, chair of the San Bernardino County Democratic Party, told the Associated Press the advisory ballot proposition was just a manipulation of residents designed to motivate conservative voters.
“Putting it on a ballot was a waste of time for the voters,” said Wagoner. “The option of actually seceding from the state is not even something that is realistic because of all the steps that actually go into it.”
Kathleen Ronayne says in a tweet, “A politically and racially diverse county in inland California with a larger land footprint than nine states has voted to study secession. It’s highly unlikely to happen, but the vote is notable.”
Michael Harry, Sr., says in a tweet, “Finally. San Bernardino, come back to American values.”
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