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Walden retires; Bentz resigns seat to run for U.S. House; others throw their hats in.

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Greg WaldenFor the first time in two decades, Greg Walden's name will not appear on the primary or general election ballots for representative of Oregon's Second Congressional District.

The longtime congressman has opted to retire, and following his announcement, several candidates from both sides of the aisle have thrown their hats into the ring to succeed him.

So far, the Democratic candidates include Isabella Tibbetts of Talent, Raz Mason of The Dalles, and John Holm of Medford. Republican candidates include Mark Roberts of White City, Knute Buehler of Bend, Jason Atkinson of Central Point, and Cliff Bentz, an Ontario resident and senator in Oregon's 30th Senate District.

Bentz, who has a ranching and farming background, has represented Jefferson County in the Oregon Legislative Assembly since 2008, when he was first appointed as a representative. He currently serves Senate District 30, though not for long. It encompasses Jefferson, Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Wheeler, and parts of Clackamas, Deschutes, Lake, Marion, and Wasco counties. Previously, he served in the House of Representatives representing Oregon House District 60.

"I have spent 12 years in the Oregon Legislature helping protect and defend those Oregonians who elected me to serve, first to the Oregon House and now in the Oregon Senate." he said. "I believe that the experience I have gained arguing and negotiating with urban Oregon legislators over agricultural practices, forest management, transportation, water use, energy, tax, climate, and medical care could be put to good use in Congress."

Currently, a senior partner in the law firm of Yturri, Rose LLP, Bentz specializes in business reorganizations, real estate transactions and water law. He also currently serves on the Finance and Revenue, Joint Transportation, Environment and Natural Resources, and Judiciary committees in the Oregon Senate. He has announced his resignation from his Senate seat effective Jan. 2, 2020.

I have spent 12 years in the Oregon Legislature helping protect and defend those Oregonians who elected me to serve, first to the Oregon House and now in the Oregon Senate.

I believe that the experience I have gained arguing and negotiating with urban Oregon legislators over agricultural practices, forest management, transportation, water use, energy, tax, climate, and medical care could be put to good use in Congress.

-Cliff Bentz, Republican candidate

Bentz's position will be filled by appointment. The Republican Party must nominate between three and five people for the job. The county boards of commissioners or courts in the district are given a number of votes based on county population.

Buehler served in the Oregon House of Representatives beginning in 2014. He was reelected in 2016, and two years later he lost a bid for governor against incumbent Kate Brown.

A physican, Buehler says, "Too often, the voices of those of us in Eastern, Central and Southern Oregon are disrespected or ignored — left behind and left out by Portland liberals and D.C. elites. In Congress, I'll fight for our conservative values and for the people and place I call home."

Atkinson served in the Oregon Senate from 2001 to 2013. He also ran for governor, but lost his race to Ran Saxton in the Republican primary.

He is also a filmmaker and writer, and "Atkinson works in the executive suite of the corporate sector building focused teams in finance, branding and as a negotiator," according to his website.

Roberts was an Independent Party nominee in 2018 for the position he is now seeking as a Republican candidate. Roberts is currently an online retailer, according to his filing information, and has worked as a small- and medium-sized business owner, truck executive and safety compliance officer.

The Democratic candidates come from varying professions and levels of political experience. Holm has served as a Democratic strategist for the past 15 years, according to the campaign information, which Holm said has given "a keen insight into how things get done in Washington, and how politicians on both sides of the aisle could do a better job."

The four pillars of Holm's platform are jobs, education, health care and honoring veterans.

According to her bio with Sustain U.S., Tibbetts grew up in Ecuador and has worked with organizations including Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, Women's Earth and Climate Action Network, Green-Valley Samaritans, Rogue Climate and Honor the Earth.

In a recent media report in Jackson County announcing her candidacy, she said she has never felt represented in Congress.

"Not once did I feel that our congressman was leading our district where it needed to go," she said. "Not once did I see passion for improving the lives of every Oregonian. Not once did I see the respect for diversity we need if we are going to move forward as a district, a state and a nation. I want to change all that."

Mason lived in Hermiston during her childhood and has worked as a teacher in The Dalles and Hood River. According to her campaign website, she holds a master's degree from Harvard and has worked in domestic violence shelters and with the military.

Her campaign focuses include "courageous climate action, comprehensive health care, creating a sustainable economy and leading through trauma-informed politics."

The deadline to file as a candidate for the 2020 election is March 12.

News editor Teresa Jackson contributed to this story.


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