Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Political Desk: Commissioner of Public Lands

Peter Goldmark is stepping down, which is a pity. I liked him. So we have seven people vying for his position, which oversees the Department of Natural Resources, licenses state-held land for timber harvests, protects wildlife, and deals with increasingly common wildfires. Oh, and landslides. They try to keep that to a minimum as well. There are six folk up for the gig:

Hillary Franz is a Democrat with a lot of experience. Endorsements from the Stranger, Washington Conservation Voters, Dow Constantine. Wants healthy forests, promotes clean energy jobs, and protect working farmlands and forest from the development pressures. As more and more land around here gets put under the developer's plow, that's not a bad thing at all.

Mary Verner, Democrat, is a former mayor of Spokane. Former mayor, you say? Has done a lot of mayoral stuff, but also salmon restoration and is not afraid to say the deadly words "climate change". Most importantly for the current discussion (and something she softpedals in her Voter's Guide writeup), she comes out of the DNR. Knowing what you're managing is a good thing. Mr. Goldmark's success in the position really opens me up to the idea of the office leaning heavily on the other side of the Cascades.

Steven M Neilson is running as a Libertarian, which means he used to be a Republican (yeah, there are former Democrat Libertarians - I just don't know if any of them are running). He puts forward that poor forest management of the past threatens jobs, jeopardizes wildlife, and reduces access to quality education. That last one is may sound weird at first blush, but timber leases are used in part to help fund schools. Cut down some forests, but it's for the kids! Sounds pretty Republican, but pushes hemp development so you know he's Libertarian.

Dave Upthegrove has the Times' endorsement, and comes out of the political end of the experience, King County Councilperson, State Rep, Chair on the House environmental committee. Not afraid to say "climate change". Pushes renewables over coal terminals Slew of endorsements from the powers that be, including Chris Gregoire, Adam Smith, Labor, and more Democrats than you can shake a stick at, if shaking a stick at Democrats is something you wish to do. This is a position that I favor talented amateurs as opposed to old political hands, but DAMN, he's got a resume.

Karen Porterfield, Democrat, also wants to balance preserving the environment with generating revenue for schools (I dunno, can we maybe do ... both?) She wants to take a business approach to our public lands, which sets off all sorts of warning bells for me. Surprised she isn't a Libertarian.

Steve McLaughlin, the lone official Republican in the race, is ex-navy who, after the fires in Twisp and landslides in Oso, realized he could use his experience could help. And in dealing with natural disasters, of that I have no doubt. Of the rest of it, he's talking about balancing the environment and education as well. Such talk does make me a tad nervous.I want him on the response team when the next big one hits.

John Stillings, Democrat and Olympic Medalist (rowing), sounds like a good soul. Big worry is about wildfires and rising sea levels. He's up against some solid competition here.

So, for me, I like Ms.Verner's approach and qualifications, though even I am awed by Mr. Upthegrove's resume and endorsements. I will recommend Mary Verner, and if she has to square off against Upthegrove, I will have to think things through.

More later,