& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & O & lt;/span & nly a year after the Big Blue Wave failed to reach this landlocked portion of the Interior West, former congressional candidate Peter Goldmark is on the stump again, this time running as a Democrat for state lands commissioner. He is likely to face the incumbent, Republican Doug Sutherland, who recently indicated he will seek another term
Goldmark, who raises wheat and cattle on some 8,000 acres in the Okanogan Highlands, will mark his official campaign kickoff this morning with a breakfast for supporters in Spokane before he zooms off to campaign stops in Olympia and Seattle in his own small airplane.
In a telephone interview, Goldmark cited three issues. He is against the movement by the lands commission to convert the revenue stream from forest or ag lands management to rentals of commercial properties or malls; he challenges little-publicized fee increases; and he says the state allows too big a timber cut.
The state is losing 8 percent of its forestlands a year, Goldmark says, citing the current lands commission's investment in commercial properties instead.
"This is happening at an appalling rate," Goldmark says. "I think that's a short-term view. Forested lands deliver an awful lot of return ... not only in terms of dollar income but in terms of other uses the state enjoys. You can never re-create a forest out of malls."
To keep the estimated 2 million acres of state forested lands financially -- as well as biologically -- healthy, Goldmark says the cut rate must be reduced and managed for the long term.
"It's unfortunate the commissioner hasn't provided the leadership to set a sustainable cut level," Goldmark says.
On his Website, www.votepetergoldmark.com, Goldmark says his experiences on the Okanogan school board and as a regent at Washington State University give him firsthand knowledge of the importance of forestlands as a resource for rural schools.
He writes on the site that he will end below-cost logging contracts, monitor the sale of public land to developers and watchdog threats to water quality or erosion.
Concluding his telephone interview with The Inlander, he says, "We don't want Washington to stop being the Evergreen State. That's been the byline of this state and needs be continuing strong feature of the future, and we need be really firm about that."
Firefighters Toss Bucket of Cold Cash
Local 29, the Spokane Firefighters' union, has made an unprecedented campaign donation of $7,500 to city councilwoman Mary Verner's campaign for mayor. The union had previously donated $5,000 to Al French's campaign in the primary -- at the time the union's biggest single donation.
Mark the Date
Ballots for the November general election are scheduled to be in the mail Oct. 16 -- less than three weeks away. Accordingly, the pace of candidate appearances is picking up with a baker's dozen forums and debates in the coming weeks.
Among the highlights:
The League of Women Voters will conduct a candidates' forum on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Spokane City Council Chambers from 7-9 pm. While the forum will be taped for rebroadcast, an audience of physically present people is encouraged.
Debates between mayoral candidates Verner and incumbent Dennis Hession are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Bing, from 6:30-8:30 pm., sponsored by Spokane Public Radio KPBX; on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Gonzaga Law School auditorium from 6:45-8 pm; and one to be broadcast live from the Bing on Monday, Oct. 15, from 6-8 pm, sponsored by KXLY.
Getting Over the Grump Hump
We wondered last week about what it means that Hession, despite out-raising Verner roughly $180,000 to $57,000 (as of Sept. 24), gained only 304 more votes in the primary. Is it the curse of the one-term mayor, run out on a rail by a grumpy, tightwad electorate?
We have to go back a generation to the last mayor to serve two terms, David Rodgers (1967-78). Does this mean Hession has to raise enough money to fix our personal potholes, clear our parking tickets and treat us to dinner or offer to babysit before getting another chance?
Steve McNutt, Hession's campaign manager, says, "I think there is kind of an odd mentality in Spokane that is either grumpy or looking for some sort of panacea in a mayor. Politics in Spokane is tough in that respect."
McNutt says the campaign portrays Hession as a stabilizing force who stepped in when Spokane was the butt of national jokes and is now presiding over a healthy economy.
"But we are still fighting to overcome that [the one-and-done paradigm], and if you look back on past mayoral campaigns, it seems each one was ousted for some perceived fatal flaw -- fairly or not," McNutt says. "Spokane seems to be looking for perfection and I think that's... well, I don't think that exists, frankly."