Op-Ed

Public lands candidates available to voters

On July 18, the League of Women Voters will be hosting one of only two primary forums for candidates for the Washington Commissioner of Public Lands position. Seven candidates will be on the primary ballot this summer, and voters will have a good opportunity to hear their perspectives on the complex work of the commissioner.

The Commissioner of Public Lands is responsible for managing the Washington Department of Natural Resources, including management of over 3 million acres of public lands that are leased or from which timber is sold. The proceeds from these sales and leases generate non-tax revenue for K-12 schools, public universities, corrections institutions and more.

The commissioner also oversees the management of 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands, and harvests, aquaculture, and fisheries related to the wide variety of shellfish that grow here. Revenue from aquatic resources funds projects to restore and protect habitat in aquatic lands.

Additional activities of the Department of Natural Resources, all overseen by the Commissioner of Public Lands, include management of mining and mineral leases, recreation on state-owned lands, and wildfire protection.

Managers and users of public resource lands, as well as private landowners, should mark their calendars for this forum on a critical statewide elected office. The forum will be held in the Bellingham City Council Chambers, 210 Lottie St., from 6:30-8 p.m. on Monday, July 18. Candidates for the office include Hilary Franz, Steve McLaughlin, Steven M. Nielson, Karen Porterfield, John Stillings, Dave Upthegrove and Mary Verner. Candidates will answer questions from the moderator; however, the audience will have an opportunity to submit questions as well.

The forum, hosted by the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County, is co-sponsored by the non-profit League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund and the Washington Association of Land Trusts. The City of Bellingham also serves as a co-host, and The Bellingham Herald is the media partner.

We hope you will join us for the only primary candidate forum for Commissioner of Public Lands in northwest Washington.

Judy Hopkinson and Rebecca Johnson are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County.

Election

Ballots for the Aug. 2 Washington state primary election will be in the mail July 13. Be sure to have your ballot in the mail to be postmarked on or before Aug. 2.

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