Josephine County voters will have their chance to vote on the Greater Idaho idea this May. The Board of Commissioners of that Oregon county voted unanimously today to refer a non-binding advisory question regarding Greater Idaho to the county’s May ballot. The question reads “In your opinion, should Josephine County, along with other rural counties, separate from Oregon and become part of Idaho?”
The Greater Idaho movement proposes to move the Oregon/Idaho border so that eastern and southern Oregon would be governed by Idaho. Eight counties of rural Oregon have voted in favor of the movement’s ballot initiatives so far.
Three counties will vote on Greater Idaho ballot measures this May: Douglas, Klamath, and Josephine Counties. If Douglas County and Klamath County approve the measures, they will create an unbroken line of counties that have voted in favor of the idea, from Reedsport, on the Pacific Ocean, all the way to Ontario on the Oregon/Idaho border.
Josephine County’s board is the second board of commissioners to give voters a chance to have their say on this issue. “We call on boards in other counties to let their voters have a say by doing what Josephine County’s board has done,” said Mike McCarter, leader of the Greater Idaho movement.
Most counties that have voted on the issue were voting on initiatives forced onto the ballot by volunteers who collected the number of signatures required by Oregon law, according the movement’s website greateridaho.org. McCarter emphasized the grassroots nature of the movement by pointing out that the number of volunteers who collected at least 11 signatures for the Douglas County ballot initiative was seventy.
Southern Oregon also hosts a movement to create a new state called “State of Jefferson,” but McCarter said that the Oregon Legislature is more likely to approve a plan that does not add two Republicans to the US Senate, adding “we sign their State of Jefferson petitions and they sign our petitions, so we should vote in favor of anything that would free us from Salem’s grip.”
During a board meeting Feb. 17, Josephine County Commissioner Darin Fowler said “Maybe Oregon needs a bit of a dividing line instead of trying to compromise because one group has refused to compromise for decades on a lot of things (not everything).” Commissioner Herman Baertschiger, former majority leader of the Oregon Senate, also voted in favor, saying “I’m always listening to the voices of the citizens.”
McCarter said “I understand that Intel or Nike employees would love to see our state turn into a national park but the mining, logging, farming and ranching families were here first, and they won’t survive with the Oregon Legislature’s proposals that make our mines, saw mills, farms, ranches, and other businesses unable to compete with those of other states. We welcome newcomers who want to improve our state, but not voters who would destroy our livelihoods. But we’re willing to see northwestern Oregon do whatever it wants, as long as eastern and southern Oregon are allowed to preserve our way of life as parts of Idaho.”
Video of the meeting will be posted here: http://www.co.josephine.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=2310(the vote occurred at the end of the meeting)
Idaho Legislators meet with Greater Idaho movement
On Feb. 17 in Boise, at least twenty Idaho state legislators attended an informational meeting on the Greater Idaho proposal in the Capitol building. Reactions were enthusiastic, McCarter said. The movement is hoping for a hearing in the Oregon Legislature this year, after SurveyUSA released a poll showing that 81% of the voters of northwestern Oregon think that the Oregon Legislature should look into the sources and solutions to the discontent in eastern and southern Oregon. The poll also showed support for moving the border.