Politics

Oregon Leaders Beg for Drug Crisis Help

Local leaders around Oregon are speaking out about the dire fentanyl crisis sweeping through the state, with Republicans demanding more help.

A recent Fox News report revealed the true feelings that many local leaders have espoused about Democrat Gov. Tina Kotek’s plans that do not appear to be doing enough:

Ramshackle RVs, nondescript sedans, shopping carts, bicycles, tents and tarps line a street on the edge of the city [of McMinnville], bordered by an open field and, beyond that, the Yamhill River. A lonely dumpster, lid thrown open, sits amid piles of trash.

Deputies recently responded to three overdoses at the camp in one day. Another overdose call sent them racing to a logging road in the Coast Range, a 35-minute drive from the sheriff’s office. Much too long for them to reach the person in time.

“There’s nothing out there,” Yamhill County Sheriff Sam Elliott said. “They weren’t camping. They weren’t living up there. They just were up there specifically to smoke pills.”

“It’s like playing Whac-A-Mole… with the number of challenges that counties are facing,” Association of Oregon Counties President Danielle Bethell told the outlet, adding that rural communities have been “left out” of the action plan to improve the drug, crime, and poverty issues.

Kotek declared a state of emergency for the city of Portland over the fentanyl crisis in early February, but critics believe that many other areas in the large state need drastic help as well. 

“We have a crisis on our hands, and that’s easy to see,” said Oregon Rep. Lucetta Elmer (R), whose district spans areas in Polk and Yamhill counties about an hour south of Portland.

“We have drugs that are just rampant, and we’re seeing public drug use daily,” she continued. “Extreme homelessness and garbage everywhere. It’s unsafe and it’s unsightly, but it’s also heartbreaking because literally, our fellow citizens are dying.”

While the majority of Oregon counties vote conservatively, they are “consistently outnumbered by urban liberals,” the Fox News analysis found.

Nearly 60 percent of voters approved of the state’s notoriously counterproductive drug decriminalization in 2020, but newer polls have found that they regret Measure 110 just a few years later.

“Only 29 percent of Oregonians polled by DHM Research last year said the state is headed in the right direction, a figure that dropped to 9 percent among Republicans,” the report noted.

In December 2023, Elmer hosted a roundtable where other district leaders “overwhelmingly” said that Kotek’s fentanyl crisis action plans should extend beyond Portland to the forgotten areas of the state.

“They want to see it get to all of Oregon,” the representative said. “They’re crying for that. We need to see that things are going to change.”

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