Debate Over 51st State Comes To El Paso County

The debate continues over part of Colorado breaking away to form a new state, and has now reached Southern Colorado.

A spokesman for the 51st State Initiative was in town Thursday to speak to El Paso County Commissioners about the movement in hopes of gaining some support.

Three of the five commissioners were on hand for the presentation.

The group's spokesman told commissioners that there is so much focus on urban areas that rural parts of the state feel neglected.

For the counties that are trying to secede, it all comes down to who has the power.

"We think that there should be much more local control. Local governments can reflect and respect the values more in those communities. We think the state should be a thinner state government and not this one-size-fits-all at the state level," Jeff Hare, a spokesman for The 51st State Initiative.

Hare tells 11 News he hopes El Paso County leaders agree with some of the movement's principles, and will at least be part of the discussion moving forward.

"We think that the model of government that we're laying out would be very receptive to folks here in El Paso County," said Hare.

El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark agrees that local government is effective, but believes people need to work on fixing what's wrong with the government, instead of creating a new one.

"Moving forward I don't know that El Paso County is going to go down this path, but I do think its important for us to understand what's on our ballots and whether we support it or not," said Clark.

11 News spoke with a political science professor at Colorado College about the likelihood of a secession happening.

"It would probably take a situation like the creation of West Virginia--a civil war. Anything less than that, it's not going to happen," said Professor Bob Loevy.

The secession would have to be approved by state and federal lawmakers, something that Loevy says would be nearly impossible.

Several counties have the issue on their upcoming November ballot.


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