Former state representative sworn in to replace Ted Ferrioli for Senate District 30.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sen. Cliff BentzRep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) was sworn in earlier this month as the new senator representing Oregon Senate District 30 seat, following the resignation of Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) in November.

Commissioners from the 11 counties that are wholly or partly included in the nearly 36,000-square-mile district — Jefferson, Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Wheeler, and parts of Clackamas, Deschutes, Lake, Marion and Wasco counties — met Jan. 4, at the centrally located John Day Airport and selected Bentz to fill the seat vacated by Ferrioli.

A total of 16 county commissioners, including Jefferson County Commission Chairman Wayne Fording, and commissioners Mae Huston and Mike Ahern, traveled to John Day for the vote, with another 11 commissioners participating by phone.

Rules require that the person who fills a vacated seat must be from the same political party as the person who vacated the seat — in Ferrioli's case, the Republican party. Each commissioner was given a weighted vote, based on the number of registered Republican voters within his or her portion of the district.

Besides Bentz, the candidates included Dr. Eric Wattenburg, of Redmond, and rancher Suzan Ellis Jones, of Bridgeport. Bentz received 73.59 of the 84 total votes, Wattenburg received 5.66 votes, and Jones, who was not present, received 4.66.

Huston said that she was the lone vote for Jones, and Ahern and Fording supported Bentz.

Bentz, 66, took the oath of office Jan. 8, in the Senate Chamber in the Oregon State Capitol, with Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas A. Balmer officiating. At that time, Bentz resigned his former position as state representative for House District 60, which has begun the process of appointing his repolacement.

The 2018 Legislative session begins Feb. 5.

Bentz, who had served in the Oregon House of Representatives since 2008, was born in Salem and grew up on his parents' cattle ranch east of Burns. A 1974 graduate of Eastern Oregon College, he earned a Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark College Northwestern School of Law in 1977, and is a partner in the Yturri Rose law firm in Ontario. He and his wife, Lindsay, a veterinarian, have two children and operate a 100-acre alfalfa farm.

Ferrioli, who had served in the Oregon Legislature for 20 years, resigned to accept an appointment by Gov. Kate Brown to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which oversees electrical energy cooperatives, public utility districts, and hydroelectric generation facilities, and manages renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

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