Historic forest fires. The Oso landslide. Global warming. These are among the issues in the race for Washington Commissioner of Public Lands. The position oversees state trust lands that generate money for schools.
The commissioner must also navigate a constant tension between the timber industry and environmentalists.
Seven candidates are competing in the August primary to replace outgoing commissioner Peter Goldmark. A Video Voters’ Guide produced by TVW features introductions from each of the candidates.
Three Democrats lead the fundraising race. There’s Hilary Franz, executive director of the environmental non-profit Futurewise.
“I’ll work to restore healthy forests, I’ll implement overdue wildfire prevention plans and end dangerous steep slope logging.”
There’s King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove who describes his vision for the office as:
“No to old fashioned timber practices and yes to wildlife habitat, clean water and sustainable harvest for our schools.”
And there’s Karen Porterfield, a former vice president of United Way of King County who’s never held elected office.
“It is time that we took a practical business approach to our public lands, not a political one.”
The Republican in the race is Steve McLaughlin, a retired U.S. Navy commander who provided disaster relief after the Oso landslide and eastern Washington fires.
“I realized my experience as a Naval officer and incident command instructor could serve the citizens of Washington state.”
Also running for lands commissioner:
- Former Spokane mayor Mary Verner - Democrat
- Former Olympian John Stillings - Democrat
- Aeronautics engineer Steven Nielson - Libertarian
The top-two voter getters will advance to the general election regardless of party.