Some residents in the county feel that failing Democratic policies have destroyed the county’s affordability, increased homelessness, and caused a rise in crime. Meanwhile, California residents pay among the highest taxes in the country.
Curt Hagman, the chairman of the board of supervisors which placed the proposal on the ballot, noted that there is “a lot of frustration overall” regarding the state’s allocation of funds to local governments. According to Hagman, “It’s been a rough few years” for San Bernardino County residents.
Even if San Bernardino County officials forge ahead in the hopes of forming their own state, California’s Legislature and Congress, which hold a strong Democratic majority, are unlikely to approve any such measure. Democratic voters have a 12-point majority over Republican voters in the county.
While succession might seem like a longshot, the split vote indicates significant political unrest.
According to the chair of the San Bernardino County Democratic Party, Kristin Washington, the ballot measure is nothing more than a conservative political maneuver.
“Putting it on a ballot was a waste of time for the voters,” Washington claimed. “The option of actually seceding from the state is not even something that is realistic because of all the steps that actually go into it.”
According to the California State Library, there have been 220 failed attempts in the last 172 years to break the state into smaller states.
William Deverell, director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, told the AP, “I tend to be very skeptical of these secession maneuvers.”
“The state’s problems are not likely to be addressed by the jurisdictional chopping block,” Deverell noted.
John Pitney, a Claremont McKenna College political scientist, explained that the study of succession is unlikely to go anywhere but does send a clear message to state officials that “a lot of Californians are unhappy in many ways.”
“The vote on secession was like smashing the china. It’s a way of getting attention but in the end it doesn’t accomplish much,” Pitney said.
The next step for the county is to create a committee of public and private sector members who will be put in charge of comparing San Bernardino funding to other counties.