Western slope support “game-changer” for 51st state initiative

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said recent interest in support for the 51st state movement from western slope counties  is a “game-changer” in the debate over water issues should residents succeed in forming a 51st state.


“We are now getting support from counties on the Western slope, this is a game-changer,” Conway said. “The way things are going, we could end up voting Denver and Boulder off of the island.”


This Tuesday, voters in 11 Colorado counties will be voting on a ballot initiative asking them if they want their county commissioners to pursue options to become a 51st state.


The issue is the result of long-simmering disputes between the rural and urban residents of the state. However, during the last legislative session Democrats, who controlled both chambers of the legislature as well as the governorship pushed through a series of radical bills on a wide range of liberal causes including “gay” civil unions, abortion, gun control and an energy bill that placed special renewable energy requirements on rural residents while exempting municipal entities from the same rules.


As if Weld County voters didn’t have enough reasons to vote on the secession initiative, state officials have recently decided to take a stretch of I-25 that runs right through their county and designate one of the existing lanes into a toll lane.


Conway said that officials would even think about doing this to Weld County shows that despite claims to the contrary, state officials are still blind to the disconnect between the rural and urban areas of the state.


“Where do they put the toll road first? This would be the first section of interstate highway that was originally built as a general purpose lane that is being made into a managed lane,” Conway said. “Why us? What makes it so special that we get this great opportunity to pay for this road twice?”


While much of the media attention has focused on the northeastern counties voting on the issue, there are also several western slope counties that have also expressed support for the idea of a 51st state.


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3 Responses to Western slope support “game-changer” for 51st state initiative

  1. Disgusted says:

    I was shocked to see other counties voted for this yet Weld County people didn’t seem to want it. Why would anyone not vote to have a better life? To keep their hard earned money where they live instead of sending it to Denver never to see it again?
    I would hope the commissioners keep trying, one lost vote doesn’t mean they can’t try again.

  2. Joe says:

    Because most of us recognize that holding your breath and stomping your feet is a stupid and counterproductive strategy to solve political problems

  3. steve says:

    This guy nailed it:

    As a U.S. historian with an interest in secession movements, I followed the North Colorado talk closely. I even spoke at a county commissioners’ meeting in July in Ault, cautioning from the lessons of the past. The attention paid to such efforts almost always shifts away from the real frustrations of thoughtful people to the relative impossibility of secession, and as the latter gets all the attention the former gets lost in the shuffle.

    I am saddened, though not surprised, to see recent events follow this path. By leading the charge for secession, members of the Weld County commission and council — Sean Conway, Jeffrey Hare and Barb Kirkmeyer, in particular — publicly staked their reputations on a concept all but certain to fail. When their constituents repudiated secession at the polls, these officials lost the credibility they needed to lobby at the state level.

    At the meetings I attended, the most common statement I heard was that people who felt ignored were finding their voice, that someone was finally listening to them. By promoting secession rather than seeking serious ways to redress their constituents’ grievances, county politicians hijacked these rediscovered voices.

    By seeking headlines rather than solutions, they turned essential issues into a punch line.

    It breaks my heart to know that the secession effort, and its most prominent advocates, harmed far more than helped the chances of finding resolutions with the state government. Frustrated citizens across both the county and region are the real losers in this story. These Weld County politicians should be ashamed of having squandered their opportunity, and the public’s trust.

    Derek R. Everett, Department of History, Colorado State University

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