Peter Goldmark

Peter Goldmark

State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, an Okanogan County native, announced that he will not seek a third term as overseer of 5.6 million acres of state forests, commercial lands and aquatic areas and head of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Goldmark, who was elected to the post in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, had said earlier that he would pursue a third term this year. But in announcement last week, Goldmark said that “After talking with my family, I have now decided not to seek a third term as Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands.” Goldmark has not elaborated on that statement.

Goldmark defeated Republican incumbent Doug Sutherland in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012 with 59 percent of the vote.

According to his biography, Goldmark grew up near Okanogan and graduated from Okanogan High School. In 1967 received a degree from Haverford College near Philadelphia. After receiving his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1971, he attended Harvard University for a postdoctoral fellowship in neurobiology.

Following his marriage in 1972, he moved back to Okanogan with his wife, Georgia. Together, they raised their five children on the family ranch. Georgia died of cancer in 2003. Goldmark has since remarried.

Goldmark’s public service roles included being a member of the Okanogan School Board, state director of agriculture, chairman of the Governor’s Council on Agriculture and the Environment, and president of the Board of Regents of Washington State University. He was also a wildlands firefighter and a founding member of Farming and the Environment, a coalition of farmers, ranchers and environmentalists.

Goldmark maintains a small scientific research facility at his ranch and has published scientific articles in national and international journals, according to his biography. He currently maintains a wheat-breeding program at his facility and has recently released new varieties for Washington wheat farmers.

When he earlier said he would seek re-election this year, Goldmark said that “My goals are healthy forests, clean water, fresh air, and vibrant rural communities. I am running for re-election because we must find sustainable solutions to manage climate change, to confront worsening wildfire, and to fix our broken system for funding education. We must confront these challenges if we are to protect the Washington way of life for generations to come.”

According to a Seattle Times article, Goldmark, a Democrat, had raised more than $150,000 in campaign funds.

During the recent legislative session, Goldmark had asked the state Legislature to allocate $24 million to the DNR for firefighting. But the Legislature appropriated only a $6.7 million.