Though he indicated that he intended to run again back last September, Washington’s very liberal Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark changed his mind earlier this year and announced he would not run for a third term.
No doubt, a serious look at his record made him reconsider that earlier decision. As we know all to well from recent summer fires in Eastern Washington, our state has suffered extreme consequences due to Goldmark’s misguided leadership.
Simply put, Goldmark is part of the problem of the Democrats’ gross mismanagement of Washington State government His departure leaves the potential for improvements at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) — if change actually occurs.
Democrats have crowded the race for Lands Commissioner — the liberals include King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, environmental attorney Hilary Franz, Seattle University professor Karen Porterfield, and John Stillings.
Republican Steve McLaughlin, a former Navy officer, is the most rational candidate seeking the open seat. Libertarian Steven Nielson is also running.
All the Democrats except Stillings have some level of name ID — and they promise certain change, though just not the type of change many Washingtonians would appreciate.
Arguing that the department needs a “fresh start,” Upthegrove says his “main aim” as Lands Commissioner “would be addressing climate change, often through a racial-justice lens.”
Verner claims to be ahead of her fellow Democrats due to the experience she has had “working for the Spokane Tribe on fish – and wildlife – habitat restoration and other environmental issues.” Supposedly, her experience would help her fight fires.
Franz — who is also the former executive director for ultra-liberal Futurewise — claims to specialize in “land-use policy that works to show people the link between the environment and economics.” Franz told the Seattle Times, “My big experience is understanding the policies…” Apparently, her “big experience” is not with — oh, we don’t know — controlling wildfires or actually managing our public lands to the benefit of state’s citizens.
The top Democrat candidates in the race for Lands Commissioner have a major problem in common: they lack the common sense approach it takes to implement preventative measures against wildfires. That, inevitably, means more of the same type of ineffective leadership at DNR.
Goldmark bears the responsibility of setting the state DNR policy of decreasing the amount of controlled burns, the most effective way to prevent bigger wildfires. Under Goldmark’s “leadership”, controlled burns in Washington State lagged far behind neighboring states, including Oregon and Idaho.
Scientists have long pointed to controlled burns, or prescribed fires, as “an important tool for keeping forests healthier and less susceptible to devastating wildfires.” Yet, despite calls to resume the policy of controlled burns, Goldmark continues to prefer the use of “chain saws and other equipment as the first tools of choice for thinning the woodlands.”
In one sense, Upthegrove is correct. The DNR does need a “fresh start.” However, it also needs a re-set to common sense, proven methods of lands management — not the radical environmental approach that he and his fellow Democrats prefer.