Steve McLaughlin, Republican candidate for Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands, was the special guest at an event last Friday evening, August 12, in Chewelah.
The event, hosted by Stevens County Commissioner Steve Parker, included a hot dog feed, entertainment by the Marble Country Kids and a dessert auction.
Approximately $2,000 was raised and given to McLaughlin’s campaign.
In his speech, McLaughlin promoted his plan to re-shape the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He promised to save one million dollars immediately by eliminating several of the agency’s top positions. He also said that DNR could help create year-round jobs by implementing his system of forest thinning and fuels reduction – a plan that he said will also lead to fewer catastrophic wildfires.
McLaughlin said that he would eliminate the agency’s top-down approach to selecting managers and work toward promoting qualified lower-level workers through a system of strong professional development. He said that boosting morale among DNR employees can lead to less adversarial interactions with the agency.
In 1957, the legislature created the DNR to manage state trust lands for the people of Washington. Under the elected leadership of the Commissioner of Public Lands, DNR manages seven specific trusts to generate revenue and preserve forests, water, and habitat. DNR now manages 5.6 million acres of forest, range, agricultural, aquatic, and commercial lands for more than $200 million in annual financial benefit for public schools, state institutions, and county services.
McLaughlin pointed out that his opponent in the upcoming general election, Hilary Franz, is the Executive Director of Futurewise. According to the group’s mission statement, “Futurewise is a statewide public interest group working to promote healthy communities and cities while protecting farmland, forests and shorelines today and for future generations.” McLaughlin indicated that the goals of Futurewise, and Franz, are detrimental to Washington’s forest lands and jobs and encouraged attendees to research the candidate.
According to Futurewise’s website, The group was founded in 1990 and “has established an impressive track record on growth management issues as the state’s primary advocate for smart growth policies.”
While McLaughlin was the top vote getter in this month’s Primary Election with 38 percent of the vote, he faces a tough battle in November’s General Election as Franz and four other Democratic candidates in the Primary collected a combined 57 percent of votes.
“You gotta get out and vote,” McLaughlin urged those attending the event.
McLaughlin is a retired Commander and 25 year veteran of the U.S. Navy. He is now an Incident Command Instructor and lives in Seabeck, Wash. with his wife, Julia.
-By Jared Arnold/The Independent Staff