By Julie Johansen and Micah Iverson
Congressman John Curtis, representing Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, delighted crowds Friday night in Carbon and Emery counties, speaking on an array of topics important to the listening crowds.
Curtis spent part of the day touring the desert in Emery County with county representatives before the meeting in Castle Dale. He expressed his appreciation to the representatives from the county for this experience. Congressman Curtis began the meeting by asking those in attendance who are currently holding office to introduce themselves. He noted the significance of having federal, state, county and community leaders in attendance.
After the introductions, he asked the audience for questions. One of the issues discussed included PILT monies (Payment in Lieu of Taxes). Congressman Curtis explained that though there was a resolution passed on the state level, nothing has happened federally, but it surely would be helpful for rural Utah. He also stated that it is way past due as it has been many years since the federal government has addressed this issue.
Opioid restrictions and abuse were also discussed, as was medical marijuana. The Emery County Public Lands Bill received commendation from Congressman Curtis in the meeting. He felt that it handled all the levels of concern for public lands. Congressman Curtis met with SUWA (Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance) on the desert earlier regarding this matter. A balanced budget was questioned and he stated how immigration issues were attached to the budget legislation.
Congressman Curtis then made his way to Carbon County to take part in a similar meeting with residents. This wasn’t the Congressman’s first rodeo, though. He has taken part in his fair share town halls since taking over for Congressman Jason Chaffetz late last year.
“This is my 22nd town hall meeting in a month and a half,” the Congressman said at the beginning of the meeting with a smile. “I have a team who I am pretty sure does not care about my mental health or my quality of life.”
Congressman Curtis gave candidates for upcoming elections who were in the crowd an opportunity to introduce themselves, as well as those currently holding office, before taking questions from the audience that was in number of about 60.
Topics covered in the meeting ranged from local economic issues facing the county to gun control. There was even a poignant back and forth with the crowd about what steps can be taken to ensure that what happened in the Florida high school shooting back on Feb. 14 doesn’t happen again.
These types of town hall meeting last about an hour, but because of the multiplicity of questions asked, Congressman Curtis gave ample time to answer each one, with the meeting lasting over an hour and a half.