Rep. Cliff Bentz was appointed to the Oregon Senate Jan. 4 to fill the remainder of former Sen. Ted Ferrioli’s term in office for Senate District 30.
County commissioners from Grant, Harney, Malheur, Baker, Deschutes, Jefferson, Lake, Wasco and Wheeler counties voted on Ferrioli’s replacement after he was appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Planning Council by Gov. Kate Brown.
According to Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney, who was appointed by the secretary of state as chairwoman of the group filling the vacancy, Bentz received votes from 24 of the commissioners, while Dr. Eric Wattenburg received votes from two and Suzan Ellis Jones received one vote. Each commissioner’s vote was weighted by county population — and the weighted vote was still being calculated Thursday evening — but Bentz secured the majority.
“The Senate Republicans are excited to welcome Representative Bentz to our caucus,” said Sen. Jackie Winters, R-Salem, in a statement. “Rep. Bentz will be a tremendous addition to our team, and I look forward to working with him in the sessions to come.”
The vote took place at the Grant County Regional Airport in John Day after the commissioners interviewed Bentz and Wattenburg, a family, emergency and urgent care doctor, small business owner and medical radio show host from Bend. Jones, a rancher and Baker County Republican Party chair from Bridgeport, did not participate in the interview process. Republican precinct committee persons from District 30 nominated the three candidates.
Bentz has served in the Oregon House of Representatives since 2008 and will officially take office as a senator before the next Oregon Legislature session starting Feb. 1.
Ferrioli officially resigned from office Nov. 22 to begin his appointment as a member of the power council, which oversees electrical energy co-operatives, public utility districts and hydroelectric generation facilities, along with planning, conservation and management of other renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal.
Senate District 30 includes all or part of Baker, Deschutes, Jefferson, Lake, Wasco, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Wheeler, Clackamas and Marion counties. It is the largest Senate District the state.
This story will be updated. Check myeaglenews.com for the latest information.