ONTARIO Commissioners from Baker, Malheur, Grant and Harney counties unanimously elected Cliff Bentz, an Ontario attorney, to replace Tom Butler as District 60 representative in the Oregon House of Representatives.
Each of the 12 commissioners voted for Bentz during a special meeting Tuesday afternoon at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario.
The two other candidates nominated by Republican Party officials in District 60 are Deon Strommer, a Baker City businessman; and Tim Smith, a geological consultant and rancher from Burns.
Butler, a Republican, resigned in December. His term expires at the end of the year.
Bentz will represent District 60 in the special session of the Oregon Legislature scheduled for Feb. 4-Feb. 29.
He will then have to run as a regular candidate in the May primary election. As an incumbent albeit one appointed by commissioners rather than elected by voters Bentz presumably will have an advantage over other candidates.
Strommer, who said he is disappointed at the results of Tuesday's vote, vowed to wage an aggressive campaign prior to the primary.
Eight of the 12 county commissioners attended Tuesday's meeting, including Baker County commissioners Fred Warner Jr., Carl Stiff and Tim Kerns.
Four commissioners cast their votes by telephone.