In our enthusiasm to elect Obama as the 44th President, and to support him with was many House and Senate members as we can elect, it is also important that we not lose sight of Democrats running in critical races down-ballot. Today I want to advocate on behalf of Peter Goldmark, who is running statewide in Washington for the position of Commissioner of Public Lands. If you care about the environment (and if you don't, why are you here??) should care about this race.
I have known Peter for 45 years, since we began as freshmen together at Haverford College in 1963. I advocated here on his behalf when he ran last cycle against Cathy McMorris Rogers in Washington's 5th Congressional District. I am here to advocate strongly on his behalf in this critically important race.
Below the fold I will tell you a bit about Peter, the office, and his opponent, Doug Southerland, who is not only a tool of the lumber industry, but also an admitted sexual sexual harasser.
Peter Goldmark grew up in the rural eastern part of Washington, in Okenogan. His education ranges from the one-room school house in Duley Lake in which he began, Okenogan High School, Haverford College, Cal Berkeley (where he earned a Ph. D in molecular biology, and Harvard where he did a post-doc). Peter married his first wife (who sadly passed of cancer in 2003) and moved back to Okenogan where they raised 5 children on the family ranch. Peter also built his own high-quality laboratory on the ranch, where he has developed new strains of wheat which are quite productive for the area, about which here's the kicker: he did not seek to profit from the strains but made them available to others in the area. He hs published in scientific journals about his research.
Peter has a long list of previous public service. From his website, I note the following:
Director of Agriculture for State of Washington, appointed by Governor Lowry in 1993
Chairman of the Governor's Council on Agriculture and the Environment in 1994-1996
Governor's Council for a Sustainable Washington in 2002-2003
Governor's Council on Biodiversity in 2004-2005
Founding board member and past Chairman of the Board of Farming and the Environment, a unique coalition of farmers, ranchers, and conservationists founded in 1999
Board of Regents of Washington State University, 1996-2005; President of the Board in 1999-2000
Board of the Washington State University-University of Washington Policy Consensus Center, 2003-2008
Okanogan School Board, 1998-2005
Wildland firefighter, Okanogan County, Fire District No. 8 - 30+ years
Peter is highly thought of in Democratic circles in Washington - in my one conversation with Governor Christine Gregoire at a fundraiser for Barack Obama, when I mentioned I was Peter's classmate her face lit p and she became animated while telling me how excited she was about his candidacy and how hopeful he could win the position of Public Lands Commissioner.
Peter and his current wife, Wendy, continue to run the ranch, even as he has run for office, first for the Congress and now for Lands Commissioner. His campaign office is in Seattle, and he gets back and forth by piloting his own plane.
A little more about Peter. His father, also a Haverford graduate, was a state legislator falsely accused of being a Communist by a major newspaper and was forced out of office as a result. Peter does not talk about this. His father later won a major lawsuit for libel against the newspaper. But this incident had an unfortunate later consequence when in 1995 a racist, anti-semitic drifter killed Peter's brother Charles and his family, believing the Goldmark brothers were both Communists (you can read the NY Times article on his trial here).
You can read Peter's position on the key issues here Let me simply list the five key issues, and then offer a snippet or two.
Conversion of Forest Lands - one key point is to ensure that public's interest is served, so that the timber industry does not benefit while costing the public revenue, and also putting public interests - including sustainability of habitat and access for fishing and hunting - at risk.
Sustainable Timber Practices
Cleaning up Puget Sound
The people of Washington State have demanded action on climate change. It's time to elect a Lands Commissioner who will deliver.
The Commissioner of Public Lands has direct management oversight of about 2 million acres, and regulatory oversight of 10 million more. We all know that healthy forests are a key component in efforts to address global climate change.
The incumbent wants to increase harvest levels by more than 30%, denying the scientific reality threatening long term health of our forests as climate change impacts rain cycles, snow melt, and increases the occurrence of forest fires.
The incumbent has stated that he does not believe that the evidence for climate change is conclusive, telling a group of industry insiders "Climate change is going to be an issue, and what impacts does it have in all aspects of our lives. If indeed it does anything at all. And I'm not one of those that is of the belief that the argument is already settled." This shocking denial of reality is no longer shared by even George W. Bush, whose Washington State campaign Sutherland chaired in 2004.
Many people don't realize it, but the state DNR is tasked with interagency coordination during fire response, making sure local and federal agencies and fire fighting personnel are acting in concert during major fire suppression events.. .
Here Peter's long experience as a rural firefighter makes him especially sensitive to this part of the responsibilities of the office.
Commissioner of Public Lands The Commissioner is the state-wide elected official who heads The Department of Natural Resources, which as Peter notes on his issues pages " has direct management oversight of about 2 million acres, and regulatory oversight of 10 million more." That 2 million acres is larger than either RI or DE. The total of 12 million acres is an area larger than 7 additional states: MD, HA, MA, VT, NH, NJ<and CT. It is huge responsibility, and the decisions that are taken have an impact far beyond the borders of Washington State. It is critically important that the person in charge of DNR be sensitive to the environmental impact of the actions of the Department.</p>
Doug Sutherland is, simply put, a tool of the lumber industry. He has received almost 600,000 from the Committee for Balanced Stewardship (which, like the Committee to Reelect the President, which became known as CREEP, has an unfortunate name that appropriately reduces to "BS"!!). As you can read in this political piece from the Seattle Post Intelligencer,
In the State Lands Commissioner contest, Okanogan rancher Peter Goldmark has collected $738,777. Incumbent Republican Doug Sutherland has raised $532,000.
It should be noted, however, that big timber companies and other users of state land have taken in $574,910 with their Committee for Balanced Stewardship. Weyerhaeuser has donated $100,000. Glacier Northwest, with its big Puget Sound gravel mine project , has given $50,000.
The Committee for Balanced Stewardship has the resources to spend -- bigtime -- to reelect Sutherland.
In other words, this 527 is giving more to Sutherland than he has otherwise raised on his own, which is one reason Peter could use our help.
It is not just that Sutherland could be considered a stooge or tool of the lumber industry, there is also the issue of his violating his own agency's rules on sexual harassment, as you can read here. It is true that the woman involved did not file a lawsuit for damages, and that there are no other known complaints about Sutherland. Still, one might wonder about someone in a position of power who has overall responsibility for agency behavior (a) behaving himself in a way outside his agency's rules, and (b) whose immediate response was to accuse his political opponent (Peter) of trying to make a minor incident into a political issue. I'll leave to you to decide how much weight to give this issue.
So let me summarize. We have an incumbent Republican Commissioner of Public Lands whose primary support comes from the timber industry he is supposed to regulate, whose actions jeopardize the financial well-being of the state, the preservation of habitat necessary for fish and wildlife, and who is insensitive to issues of climate change and the health of Puget Sound. We have an opportunity to defeat him with a scientist and rancher with a long tradition of public services, who knows intimately issue like wild fires which are a responsibility of the office, who has previous statewide experience (in agriculture, appointed by Mike Lowry), who is a Democrat who takes issues of environmental health and global warming very seriously.
You don't have to live in Washington State to help. Peter and his campaign will welcome your money (and you can contribute here). If you live in Washington State, you SHOULD be involved in this race. And if you have friends or family in the state, call them or email them and ask them to support Peter.
Thanks in advance for all you can do to help Peter. I ask this because he is my friend. I acknowledge the friendship. But I also do so as one committed to quality public service and as a strong supporter of the environment.
Please, do what you can.
Thanks again, and