Lands Commissioner Race Crucial in Upcoming Primary
Commissioner of Public Lands - 4-year term | There are seven candidates running for Commissioner of Public Lands. Current Commissioner, Peter Goldmark, is not running for re-election. The Commissioner leads the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He or she will influence the agency budget, staffing, priorities and more. The candidates are listed below in alphabetical order by party.
Hilary Franz (Democrat) Seattle
Karen Porterfield (Democrat) Seattle
John Stillings (Democrat) Seattle
Dave Upthegrove (Democrat) Seattle
Mary Verner (Democrat) Spokane
Steven M. Nielson (Libertarian) Port Orchard
Steve McLaughlin (Republican) Seabeck
Primary election ballots will be mailed to you July 15. They must be returned by August 2. You can return your ballot via mail or place it in a drop box. The top two finishers in the primary election will advance to the general election, November 8.
Each candidate has a website and a Facebook page that describes their priorities and who has endorsed them. You can learn a lot about a candidate by who endorses them.
Here are a few highlights about each candidate:
Hilary Franz is an Environmental Attorney and Executive Director of Futurewise. She formerly served as a Bainbridge Island city council member, and was on the board of Washington Environmental Council. Her primary concern is climate change.
Karen Porterfield is on the Faculty of Seattle University where she teaches graduate level classes in the Masters of Public Administration program. Prior to that, she spent 13 years as the Director of Development for the Salvation Army in Seattle. At a recent candidate forum, she emphasized increasing revenue through eco-tourism and stated that the department should not rely on cutting trees for revenue.
John Stillings was the coxswain of the US men's rowing team in the 1984 Olympics. He is now a painter.
Dave Upthegrove is currently a King County Councilman. He served in the State House of Representatives for 12 years where he chaired the Environment Committee.
Mary Verner was formerly the Executive Director of the Upper Columbia United Tribes, then mayor of Spokane. She has served as Deputy Supervisor for Resource Protection at DNR since 2013. Her primary responsibility is managing fires.
Steven Nielson is an Aeronautical Engineer and is Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Washington State. In a recent candidate forum, he emphasized less regulation.
Steve McLaughlin served 25 years in the Navy. His final position was Executive Officer of Naval Station Everett. In a recent candidate forum, he emphasized accountability and including stakeholders in decision making.
Take time to learn about the candidates. If possible, attend a forum where you can listen to them speak. Most important, be sure to vote!