Western Md. residents consider seceding from the Free State over liberal policies

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, September 9, 2013

Several residents of Western Maryland have launched a secession effort to separate the state’s five westernmost counties from the liberal leadership running the rest of the Free State.

The movement is being led by Scott Strzelczyk of the Western Maryland Initiative. Strzelczyk, a 49-year-old information technology consultant who also considers himself to be a constitutionalist, believes that the people in Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick, and Carroll Counties are tired of having their issues ignored by the Democrats in Annapolis. He plans on talking about the initiative with county commissioners, state government officials and the public over the next few months.

“We do not have representation in this State. The state is controlled and dominated by three jurisdictions: Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Baltimore City. Annapolis could care less about the people in the five western counties.  The only two things we can count on from Annapolis are: they will assault our rights and our wallets,” Strzelczyk told The Sentinel. “Consent of the governed means we can withdraw our consent.  We have not given consent to the oppressive laws and regulations imposed by Annapolis on the five western counties.”

The effort’s Facebook page, which already has more than 2,300 likes, further echoes Strzelcyzk’s comments.

“We intend to exercise our right of self-determination and self-governance to better secure our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the Facebook page states. “Annapolis has repeatedly injured us and abridged or denied our fundamental rights and violated numerous articles in the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Our pleas for redress of grievances to the General Assembly and the Governor are ignored or rebuffed.”

Suzanne Reisig Olden, a Carroll County paralegal who has offered her services to the cause, told The Washington Post that she’s “disgusted” by her home state.

“Those that we elect in the House of Delegates or in the Senate who are conservative are either ignored or just told to shut up. My voice does not count,” she said. “In a new state, my vote could count, my values would be valued. So I like the idea.”

The five counties involved in the state’s latest secession movement make up just 11 percent of the state’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They also tend to vote overwhelmingly Republican, however the area’s longtime Republican Congressman, Roscoe Bartlett, was defeated last November by Democrat John Delaney as a result of the state’s latest round of redistricting efforts.

According to the Sentinel, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D) office declined to comment on the effort, while Delaney’s office called the initiative “utterly ridiculous.”

“We’ve never heard from constituents on this idea. Not in our Hagerstown office, nor during our office hours in Cumberland and McHenry,” Delaney Communications Director Will McDonald said. “Congressman Delaney is fully committed to serving the people of Western Maryland and to giving Western Maryland and the entire 6th District a voice in Washington. What we hear from Western Maryland every day, from constituents and local officials, is that they want a member of Congress committed to working across the aisle to get things done and create jobs. Congressman Delaney knows that too many people are struggling to get by and that’s why he’s working on real solutions to real problems.”

There has been talk of several secession movements throughout the country this year alone, including one in Colorado that residents in 10 counties will be voting on this November. For several decades back in the late 1900s, residents of Maryland’s Eastern Shore considered breaking away from the Free State to form the state of Delmarva, which would also include the state of Delaware and Accomack and Northampton Counties in Virginia.

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