From left, County Commissioner Tom Mathers, John Kinkaid and Chuck Grobe

File photo

From left, County Commissioner Tom Mathers, John Kinkaid and Chuck Grobe

Moffat County commissioners consider placing secession issue on ballot

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— Moffat County could be moving toward secession from Colorado under the 51st State Initiative.

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid announced his intention Tuesday to write the ballot language that would ask local voters whether they want to join the secession movement.

“It’s up to people like us to make a statement that we’re not happy, and we want to go in a different direction,” Kinkaid said during Tuesday’s commission meeting.

County Commissioner Tom Mathers agreed.

“It’d be better if the Front Range just left Colorado,” Mathers said. “If we had a governor that was actually a governor and not a mayor of Denver — of the Front Range — then this secession wouldn’t be happening.”

Frank Moe, who is running for Mathers' soon-to-be-open seat, said Moffat County has been neglected by the Democrat-dominated state Legislature.

“The state left us,” he said, “not the other way around.”

The 51st State Initiative made headlines when five counties in eastern Colorado approved putting the question of secession to voters.

“The goal is to form a 51st state,” said Jeffrey Hare, executive director of the 51st State Initiative. “The net result would be a state that better reflects the values of those outside the Denver/Boulder corridor.”

Kinkaid said Moffat County, under the referendum, would either join up with the 51st state or maybe become part of Wyoming.

“It’s not just making a statement but initiating a process to change the way decisions are being made that affect the entire state,” he said.

Another solution, he said, would be to give each county its own state senator.

“It would be a stretch to give each county a senator, but it would be a compromise,” Kinkaid said.

City Councilman Tony Bohrer said the idea of secession is good on paper but might not translate well in the real world. But, he said, it would be valuable to start a dialogue.

“Discussion is always good,” he said.

Bohrer said he understands why some Colorado counties are pursuing the idea of secession.

“Our values and big-city values — our ways of life — are different,” he said. “Would I be for it, though? I don’t know.”

To resolve a disconnect between rural Colorado and the city centers, Bohrer said more people from different backgrounds need to be part of the political process.

“The minority usually speaks louder than the majority,” he said. “Somehow, you’d need people to get involved in the conversations.”

Kinkaid said the passage of Senate Bill 252 and gun regulations made rural Coloradans feel disenfranchised.

“This last legislative session over in Denver was so detrimental to the entire rural portion of Colorado. It was a bridge too far for a lot of rural counties,” he said. “People want the feeling that their voices are heard. This is part of that effort to say, ‘Hey, we’re a part of Colorado.’”

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com

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