Stories indexed with the term ‘Harry Bentz’

Who’ll Be Next Water Resources Commissioner?

Next year, for the first time in more than two decades, someone other than Democrat Janis Bobrin will be Washtenaw County’s water resources commissioner. Harry Bentz and Evan Pratt are competing in the Aug. 7 primary to be the Democratic candidate for that position, with the winner facing Republican Eric Scheie in the Nov. 6 general election.

Harry Bentz, Evan Pratt

From left: Democrats Harry Bentz and Evan Pratt are running for the position of Washtenaw County water resources commissioner. (Photos by the writer.)

Scheie is not challenged in the primary, so it was only Bentz and Pratt who attended a July 9 candidate forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area. Questions asked during the 30-minute event covered issues directly related to the position, or dealt more broadly with water and environmental quality issues, such as fracking and the Pall/Gelman groundwater contamination. Other topics included regional collaboration, financing for drain projects, and the Allen Creek greenway in Ann Arbor.

Pratt emphasized his experience as a civil and environmental engineer, including work on local water resources projects. He also stressed the fact that he is endorsed by Bobrin. He noted his involvement with groups like the Huron River Watershed Council and the Ann Arbor planning commission. He stressed his financial experience – in managing projects and as treasurer for various professional groups.

Bentz stressed the importance of ordinary citizens getting involved in local government, and described the job of water resources commissioner as an administrative position. He put himself forward as an alternative to the “political machine” that he says had taken over local government. Bentz noted that he’s a lifelong resident of Washtenaw County, and could provide new blood in the political process.

Both Bentz and Pratt are Ann Arbor residents, as is the Republican candidate, Eric Scheie.

With offices on Zeeb Road in Scio Township, the office of the county water resources commissioner – formerly called the drain commissioner – is responsible for stormwater management, flood control, drainage systems and a wide range of other issues related to water quality throughout Washtenaw County. Recent projects include the Malletts Creek restoration, the RiverSafe public education program, and the Traver Creek stabilization project for a section that runs through the Leslie Park Golf Course.

The July 9 candidate forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network, and is available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. Candidates gave opening and closing statements, and answered nine questions. The format was not designed for interaction between candidates, but each candidate was given an optional one-minute rebuttal to use once during the forum.

The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 7 primary has passed. Oct. 9 is the last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election. Information on voter registration can be found on the Washtenaw County clerk’s elections division website. To see a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website. The League of Women Voters also has an online voter information site – – which includes biographical information on some candidates, stances on issues, and a “build my ballot” feature. [Full Story]