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Weld County Voters To Weigh In On 51st State Issue

Grace Hood

What first seemed like a far-fetched idea in Weld County is now being referred to local voters so they can express their opinions on the matter.

Weld County Commissioners voted Monday to approve ballot measure language that will appear in front of county voters this November. It will be up to Weld voters to decide if the county should further pursue the formation of a 51st state separate from Colorado.

Three other counties--Cheyenne, Sedgwick, and Yuma--have also decided to put similar measures in front of voters. Counties still deciding whether to put the issue on the ballot include Logan, Phillips, Washington and Kit Carson.

Morgan County Commissioners have decided to leave it up to citizens to get the issue on the ballot. Residents there have until August 26 to gather signatures from 15 percent of active voters.

Proponents of the idea cite everything from disappointment with gun control legislation and K-12 education funding to larger issues about a growing divide between rural and urban America.

“I think that rural America has been under attack for several years,” said Commissioner Doug Rademacher. “After hearing the four meetings, it was very convincing that people want this on the ballot.”

Last month, Weld Commissioners held four public meetings on the topic. The majority of participants were in favor of the measure. But the bulk of public debate on the issue has been taking place online—both on opinion boards and on the 51st state initiative Facebook page.

“There were comments that this is a waste of time, a waste of energy and a waste of money. We also heard opinions in the paper that this was bad for the economy,” said Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.

“I wonder what they'd think if a ban on fracking were to occur, what would that do to the economy?”

The proposed ballot language will read:

Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the 51st state of the United States of America?

The general election takes place November 5.

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