CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — US Representative Cliff Bentz returned to Jackson County on Tuesday for a town hall with constitutents, less than a month after visiting with local leaders for a briefing on the proliferation of illegal marijuana grows in southern Oregon.
This time Rep. Bentz came to the Padgham Pavilion at the Expo, marking his 12th town hall this year for the 20 counties in Oregon's massive 2nd Congressional District.
After a brief introduction, Bentz opened up the microphone to the more than one hundred constituents in attendance, allowing them to address their biggest questions and concerns.
Throughout the town hall, multiple topics surfaced — including vaccine mandates across several industries. Bentz voiced his support for the National Defense Authorization Act which he believes must be passed to counter potential threats such as China. He also spoke about his approval of former president Trump, citing his policies.
One topic that emerged repeatedly was climate change and its growing impacts locally.
"What we have to do is what I did in the National Resource Committee in Washington, DC," Bentz said. "When we had the Secretary of the Interior appearing before us. And I said, madame Secretary, you look out the window ... that's Oregon going over our heads here in Washington, DC — because the smoke from the fires and Oregon was going right over, over the Capitol. For real, if you went outside ... you could, you could smell the trees that used to be here in Oregon. And that's the way you do it. You bring it to the attention of the nation and you say, we've got to do something."
Bentz added that the issue has become incredibly large-scale and it needs to proper national recognition.
Despite the urgency of the Congressman's last visit to Jackson County and his recent letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, the issue of illegal marijuana did not come up during the town hall meeting proper. NewsWatch 12 asked him about it following the meeting.
"I would hope that between now and next year, we would have found some additional people to help your local law enforcement teams to address this issue," Rep. Bentz said. "This is a bad situation ... too many people being threatened and intimidated and scared. That's not good for your community. It's bad. And too many folks, that are being taken advantage of working inside those grows. So something needs to be done."
The Congressman said that in addition to the AG, he has reached out to the FBI and the DEA to consider bringing more federal law enforcement resources to the problem next season.