WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) — A tale of two Marylands: Western Maryland and the rest of the state. Fed up with high taxes and gun control, some people want to break away and go it alone.
Mary Bubala explains why they’re trying to form their own state.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Hail & Damaging Winds Possible For Baltimore Area As Cold Front Moves Through
There’s a storm brewing over the beautiful mountains and valleys of Western Maryland. More and more people in those five counties say Governor Martin O’Malley is out of touch and they want to break away from the rest of the state.
“I can’t imagine Maryland without Western Maryland,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.
“Do you actually care about your citizens?” questioned Rob Parr.
“I certainly don’t live in a bubble and I go around the state all the time,” O’Malley said.
“Why don’t you want to listen to people that you don’t agree with?” said Suzanne Olden.
“I spend my whole day listening,” O’Malley said.
Scott Strzelczyk, Suzanne Olden and Rob Parr are part of a growing group that wants to rip Maryland in two, creating the nation’s 51st state. They met recently at O’Lordan’s Irish Pub in Westminster to tell WJZ they’re fed up with politics as usual in Annapolis.
“If your vote doesn’t count, it’s the same as having no vote. We’re not free,” Strzelczyk said. “We’re doing exactly what they did in 1776. I just simply want to live as a free human being with limited government intrusion in my life and that’s really why I do this.”
They claim Maryland’s lawmakers don’t listen to their concerns so they want to form a state more in sync with their beliefs.
“I’ve gone down to Annapolis. I’ve complained; I’ve been in rallies,” said Parr. “It all falls on deaf ears.”
“The attitude is sit down, shut up, we don’t care what you think,” said Olden.READ MORE: Capital Gazette Gunman Jarrod Ramos Sentenced To 5 Life Terms Without Parole
“We are enslaved to this government in Maryland that we want nothing to do with. All we simply want to do is peacefully leave,” Strzelczyk said.
“It’s a free country. People are allowed to express those opinions but we’re one Maryland and we’re stronger together,” O’Malley said.
Maryland isn’t the only state where frustrated citizens want to break away. It’s happening in Colorado, California, Arizona and Michigan.
“Republican counties are becoming more emphatically Republican; Democratic counties are becoming more emphatically Democratic, which means the divisions between Republican and Democratic counties are becoming all the more sharp,” said Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Crenson.
Now the movement here is picking up steam. More than 8,000 people like the Facebook page for the Western Maryland Initiative and more than a thousand have signed petitions–but could they really form a new state?
“This is a peaceful way to resolve irreconcilable differences,” Strzelczyk said. “Lots of people out there feel like there is no recourse, there is no hope.”
But they know their chances of success are slim to none.
“Maryland’s my home. I was born here. It’s my home,” Olden said.
“If we leave and other people come in our place, buy our homes or whatever the case, these problems still exist,” Strzelczyk said.
“A diversity of perspectives and a diversity of people. That’s what makes us one Maryland,” O’Malley said.
“Why would anyone want to deny us our right of self-determination when that’s the basis of how all our governments are formed in this country? Why would anyone want to deny us that?” Strzelczyk said.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 In Maryland: 17 New Deaths Reported, Hospitalizations & Positivity Dip
The Western Maryland Initiative is still working on a name for its proposed state. So far, the choices include Liberty, Antietam and Augusta.