51st State Initiative backers to visit El Paso County in search of support

By: matt steiner matt.steiner@gazette.com
October 16, 2013 Updated: October 16, 2013 at 8:35 am

Those hoping to carve out a 51st state in northern Colorado are looking south for support, specifically from El Paso County.

At least one representative from Weld County, along with Jeffrey Hare, a co-organizer of The 51st State Initiative, will give a presentation Thursday afternoon at a Board of County Commissioners work session in an attempt to grow support for forming North Colorado.

"They know it's not going to be on our ballot," El Paso County Commission Chair Dennis Hisey said. "They just want to know if we're sympathetic to the cause."

According to Hisey, representatives from The 51st State Initiative asked if the board would lend an ear and listen to their arguments for secession. The plea was granted, and Thursday's work session was scheduled.

Hisey said he was surprised when the 51st state idea was hatched in early June at a Colorado Counties Inc. conference.

Since then, 10 Colorado counties and one in southern Wyoming have jumped on the secession train. Some of those, including Weld, have put questions on their November ballots to gauge support in order to move forward with the North Colorado effort. According to an Oct. 5 article by I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS, "proponents of secession said rural Coloradans are tired of having unpopular laws such as stronger gun control and mandatory alternative energy standards forced on them."

Hare echoed that sentiment.

"What has happened is the urbanization of America has disenfranchised the rural population," he said.

Thursday's presentation before the Board of County Commissioners will be held at 2 p.m. at Centennial Hall on Cascade Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs.

"It may be fairly well-attended," Hisey said. "I do expect an audience."

West Virginia was the last to separate and form a new state when it broke off from Virginia. During the Civil War in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation granting statehood.

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