Cliff Bentz was appointed to fill the Senate District 30 seat formerly occupied by Ted Ferrioli at the first of the year. The Ontario Republican is running this fall to hold on to the seat, and he should be elected.

Bentz traces his Eastern Oregon roots back more than 100 years, when his grandfather bought cattle land in southern Harney County. He grew up on the Whitehorse Ranch near Fields, graduated from Eastern Oregon College (now University) in La Grande and earned a law degree from Lewis & Clark College. His law practice has focused on water law and the transition of ranches from one generation of owners to the next.

He’s no newcomer to the Legislature, having been appointed in 2008 to fill out the House District 60 term of Rep. Tom Butler and winning election to a full term that same year.

His expertise in water law combined with a lifetime in Eastern Oregon make him a valuable member of the Legislature. Water is a huge issue for the ranchers and farmers on this side of the state, and climate change will make matters worse. Bentz believes lawmakers should not simply work to reduce carbon output in the long run, but pay attention to appropriate water conservation measures in the short term. But, any changes in Oregon must be made for as little money as possible because they will have little impact on global climate.

Thus, he says, while the “cap” part of Democratic lawmakers’ cap-and-invest plans might be useful, they will fall short without equal attention to helping Oregonians adapt to life and business in a warmer world.

Bentz is opposed by Democrat Solea Kabakov of The Dalles. She canceled an appointment with The Bulletin’s editorial board this week and we’ve been unable to reach her since.

Bentz approaches issues in the Legislature by studying first, then asking questions. It’s what he’s done on climate change. Now he hopes lawmakers will set measurable goals that focus on such things as water and mitigation that can make a difference inside Oregon. It’s a thoughtful, careful approach that serves his district well. Voters should elect him to a full term in the Senate this fall.

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