The race for Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands pits a well-established environmental attorney against a retired Navy commander who has been a leader in disaster-relief efforts throughout the state.
Respectively, they are Hilary Franz, a Democrat from Seattle, and Steve McLaughlin, a Republican from Seabeck. The incumbent, Peter Goldmark, decided not to seek a third term.
On paper, both candidates appear committed to preserving our natural resources, improving forest management and better protecting communities from wildfires.
A glaring difference, though, is that Franz has spent the past several years as executive director of Futurewise, a Seattle-based lands-use advocacy group that we have criticized in the past for obstructing development efforts in the Tri-Cities.
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Franz has an impressive resume, and has devoted her career to working on environmental issues and public policy. She has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Washington State Climate Action Team, the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Board, the Puget Sound Regional Council Growth Management Board and she has served on the Bainbridge Island City Council.
But her position at Futurewise is a deal-breaker for us. We throw our support to McLaughlin, a solid alternative.
Futurewise is the group that blocked Kennewick’s plans to extend its urban growth boundaries south of Interstate 82 for development. The farmer who owned the majority of the acreage said the land is no longer worth farming, but Futurewise protested anyway.
In addition, an effort last legislative session to make school districts — including Kennewick, Richland and Pasco — an exception to the Growth Management Act also met with resistance from Futurewise.
At the time, we said we understood the need to protect against urban sprawl, but there should be a way for communities to build schools outside GMA boundaries when no other suitable location can be found.
Just because land is vacant, does not mean it will work for a school building. In Kennewick, for example, much of the land left for school construction is too hilly, or the price is exorbitant because the property is prime real estate for homes.
But the stance by Futurewise was inflexible. We just cannot support a candidate associated with such an uncompromising organization.
McLaughlin, however, is an avid outdoorsman who appears to want to balance access to public lands and still protect the environment.
As a naval officer, he should know how to manage a large number of people. His campaign website said he led an effort to preserve an old-growth forest in Northern Puget Sound, and he also led reconstruction efforts in Okanogan after the community was damaged by wildfire. He also has been an instructor of first-responders in emergencies.
McLaughlin has past connections to property-rights groups, but has said during the campaign that he is against extreme positions like those taken by occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Eastern Oregon last year.
The Tri-City Herald supports Republican Steve McLaughlin for state lands commissioner.
Democrat Mike Kreidler is seeking his fifth term as state insurance commissioner, and we back his return.
His challenger is Republican Richard Schrock, a commissioner with the Snohomish County Fire District. While we are appreciative of people who are willing to run for office, Schrock’s experience just can’t compare with an incumbent who has been on the job for 15 years.
The state insurance commissioner oversees the insurance industry in the state, helps consumers with problems and monitors insurance sellers. Kreidler also helped manage the state’s transition to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which was a huge challenge.
We can’t think of a reason why he shouldn’t be re-elected.
The Tri-City Herald supports Democrat Mike Kreidler for state insurance commissioner.
Look for our recommendation Sunday between Republican U.S. Rep Dan Newhouse and Republican challenger Clint Didier in Washington’s 4th Congressional District.