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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Commissioner of Public Lands

Election Results

Candidate Votes Pct
Hilary Franz (D) 1,456,429 53.34%
Steve McLaughlin (R) 1,274,138 46.66%

* Race percentages are calculated with data from the Secretary of State's Office, which omits write-in votes from its calculations when there are too few to affect the outcome. The Spokane County Auditor's Office may have slightly different percentages than are reflected here because its figures include any write-in votes.

About The Race

The lands commissioner leads the Department of Natural Resources, which manages 3 million acres of state lands for trust beneficiaries, including K-12 school construction, state buildings and counties. Its current leader, Peter Goldmark, is retiring.

Democrat Hilary Franz, an environmental attorney, and Republican Steve McLaughlin, a retired Navy commander, are running to replace him.

McLaughlin supports increasing timber harvests and opening more state lands to recreational opportunities, such as horseback riding, hunting and off-road vehicles. “I believe that healthy working forests are the key to funding our schools,” said McLaughlin, who is married and lives in Seabeck. “We’re harvesting way below what we can be without damaging anything. I want to see those harvest levels increase because it increases revenues, it creates jobs, it reduces fire hazards.”

Franz, who is executive director of the statewide advocacy group Futurewise, said timber harvests are part of the solution. But she also believes the department should look at other ways to maximize revenue from state lands, such as leasing it for wind or solar power or other economic development. “I believe that we have a responsibility to fund our schools. I believe public lands are critical to making sure that happens,” she said. “I’m committed to making sure that we are leveraging our public lands in a way that provides a stronger funding source for our schools and that diversifies our funding source.”

The Candidates

Hilary Franz

Seattle, Washington

Education: Graduated from St. Mary's Academy in Portland, Oregon in 1988. Earned a bachelor's degree in English and government from Smith College in 1992. Earned her law degree from Northeastern University in 1997.

Political experience: Served four-year term on the Bainbridge Island City Council, 2008-2011. Served or has served on Washington State Climate Action Team, Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, Puget Sound Regional Council Growth Management Board, Puget Sound Regional Economic Board, Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Board and the Puget Sound Regional Council Transportation Futures Task Force.

Work experience: Executive Director of Futurewise, a non-profit liberal advocacy group. Practicing Environmental and Land Use Attorney from 1997 to 2011. Former board member of Washington Environmental Council, Conservation NW, Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Friends of the Farms. 

Family: Has three children.


Steve McLaughlin

Seabeck, WA

Age: 60

Education: Graduated from Medford High School in 1974. Earned bachelor’s of arts degree at the University of Oregon. Graduate work at the Royal Naval College and U.S. Naval War College

Polictical experience: First run for public office. Member of the Snohomish County Homeland Security Planning Committee from 2003 to 2007.

Work experience: Spent 25 years in U.S. Navy, retired as commander. Consults and instructs on security system design and implementation.

Family: Married, with two grown children, three step-children and two grandchildren. 

Complete Coverage

New Washington lands commissioner: Address climate change, rural growth

The state’s newly elected lands commissioner says her top priorities will be to find ways to strengthen local rural economies and to prepare state lands and communities to deal with climate change.

Habib, McLaughlin for state offices

In the primary races for lieutenant governor and lands commissioner, the editorial board selected candidates who didn’t advance to the general election. The following are our reassessments in those contests. Lt. Governor: State Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-Bellevue, finished first in a crowded field, collecting a mere 22 percent of the vote. Marty McClendon, a Gig Harbor Republican, finished a close second.

Attorney, ex-Navy officer seek state public lands post

Washington’s next public lands commissioner will be expected to preserve forests, water and habitat in the face of more intense wildfires and a changing climate, while also ensuring revenues from logging, land leases and other operations for school construction and other projects.

It’ll be Jay Inslee vs. Bill Bryant in Washington governor race

It’s Inslee vs. Bryant for governor and likely Habib vs. McClendon for lieutenant governor as voters whittle down long lists of candidates seeking statewide office.

Verner, Upthegrove top lands commissioner field

Community outreach and internal communication were not Goldmark’s strengths. DNR has been beat up over the recent wildfire seasons, and morale is low. Fresh leadership is on the way, but shoring up the agency won’t be easy.

Crowded lands commissioner field wants to take on wildfire preparedness

Seven candidates are vying for the position of Washington’s public lands commissioner. It’s the top job at the state Department of Natural Resources, which manages 5.6 million acres of state lands.

Washington lands commissioner race draws crowd of Democrats

This fall’s race for Washington’s commissioner of public lands – an office that oversees the state’s largest firefighting force and 5.6 million acres of land – is hotly contested since no incumbent is on the ballot.