I have had the pleasure of working closely with Mary at an interagency level. She understands how valuable partnerships are in protecting the public from wildfire, and has a keen understanding of the constitutional mission of the DNR. Mary has the working knowledge and ability to collaborate with the agency's partners to make all the DNR's missions successful.
I am very impressed with Mary's education, qualifications, and work experience. We need a person in charge of our natural resources with this extensive experience and dedication.
- Daniel Fievez
I am voting for Mary Verner for Commissioner of Public Lands. Mary has the experience, expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to successfully manage, maintain and preserve our state's public land resources.
- Lennett Hollandsworth
I am writing to endorse Mary Verner for Commissioner of Public Lands. As a lifelong Conservative, this is no small step for me. However, Ms. Verner is the most experienced candidate with a proven record of developing relationships that are critical to agency coordination during natural disasters. I have 30 years in the fire service, most recently as a fire chief in Spokane County and regional involvement with incident response teams. I have worked extensively with federal and state agencies, and Ms. Verner has been a positive addition to the Department of Natural Resources’ leadership team. Her ability to develop relationships with local emergency responders, as well as her connections to the communities we serve, are critical to helping provide an effective response during wildland fire season. I recognize that wildland fires are not the only responsibility of the Commissioner of Public Lands. However, the faster and more effectively we can respond means additional resources will be available for other DNR programs and services across the state. Ms. Verner is the only candidate with the relationships to make this happen and has experience with the agency to be effective in this role.
- Randy M. Johnson, Spokane County Fire Chief
“I support Mary Verner for Commissioner of Public Lands. Mary’s career choices and strong environmental principles have brought her to this position, for which she is eminently well-qualified.”
– Jennifer Belcher, former Washington Commissioner of Public Lands
"As firefighters, we are considered the "boots on the ground". We all know far to well the destructive path fire takes on our lands and in our communities. Over, the past 2 years, our members have been sent out to fight fires all over the state in an unprecedented amount of mobilizations. During that time, Mary Verner has led the Washington DNR though the many challenges catastrophic fires present, The International Association of Firefighters Local 3711 feel that Mary Verner has the background, the knowledge and ability to work with all cooperating agencies in fire suppression, ecology and prevention to lead us through the complex issues that face the citizens of Washington State."
- International Association Firefighters, Local 3711
"Mary Verner is the one candidate who is able to perform the duties of Commissioner of Public Lands the day she is sworn in. As former Spokane Mayor, Mary Verner is the only candidate with executive branch experience. On day-one Mary is ready to tackle the challenges and threats to our public lands brought about by climate change and development. As Deputy for Wildfire and Administration with the Department of Natural Resources, she has earned the respect of the fire service for her tireless work in protecting life and property during two back to back record fire seasons in the Northwest. I hope people will join me in my support for Commissioner of Public Lands candidate Mary Verner."
-Mary Wissink, Vice Chair SCDCC
“Mary has terrific environmental values. But what really sets her apart is her experience – for Native American Tribes, as Mayor of Spokane, and for the Washington Department of Natural Resources. Mary understands that climate change is one of the most important issues facing us today. That’s why I’m voting for Mary Verner for Public Lands Commissioner.”
-Rachael Paschal Osborn, Senior Policy Advisory and Awardee, Center for Environmental Law & Policy
"The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is a complex agency with multiple missions entrusted to it. Leading the DNR requires a person with leadership skills, tremendous knowledge, demonstrated leadership abilities, and has a lot of good old fashioned common sense. Fire suppression is perhaps the most important function of DNR. DNR and its leaders must work with countless fire departments, other state and federal agencies, private contractors, politicians, and property owners. The Commissioner of Public Lands (CPL) must be a person who understands DNR’s various missions. Given where we are with climate change and in the aftermath of two back-to-back record setting fire seasons, the citizens of Washington cannot afford to have a Commissioner of Public Lands who is going to need two or more years of on-the-job training. We need a Commissioner who embraces and understands the concept of public safety. The fire service and the citizens of Washington State needs a person who has the experience and the leadership abilities to navigate this complicated public function. We need a Commissioner of Public Lands who is ready to hit the ground running. Make no mistakes. This particular election is not about party politics. It is about efficiently and effectively utilizing both human and financial resources to ensure the safety of Washington’s citizens and protection of our property. Mary Verner is the only candidate who possesses these essential requirements. We need leadership that works for all Washingtonians and the dedicated people at the Departrment of Natural Resources."
“I support Mary Verner. She was also on the Spokane City Council and the Mayor of Spokane. When she worked for UCUT she did a Great Job for our Tribes. Our Tribe would gain a lot if she gets this position.”
-Andy Joseph, Colville Tribal Council Member, 3rd Vice Chair, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
What are the responsibilities of the Commissioner of Public Lands?
The Commissioner of Public Lands is separately elected to head Washington's Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and is responsible to manage over six million acres of forests, agricultural and shore lands to generate revenue for public schools. Other duties include: regulating and issuing permits and leases for timber harvests, surface mines, and harbors; providing safe trails and recreation areas; and protecting habitats and natural areas. DNR also manages statewide wildfire prevention and response.
DNR's workforce is 1,500 year-round, mostly union members, plus hundreds of seasonal and project employees. Budgets are large and complex; revenue for public schools ranges up to $250+ million per year. Facilities, fleet, IT and other needs are provided from the Olympia headquarters, six region offices, and work centers around the state.
The Commissioner must work with state and federal legislators, other elected officials and community leaders on issues ranging from tribal treaty rights to local land use decisions.
Although the position is relatively obscure, the Commissioner's work impacts Washingtonians from all walks of life. Needed qualifications include solid knowledge of land management and emergency response. Ideally, the Commissioner also will know science, law, and business, have good partnerships with National Guard and military command, and be able to navigate in the political realm.
Why I want to be your Commissioner of Public Lands.
It has been an honor for me to serve the State of Washington as the head of our state’s largest wildfire fighting force. As a former Mayor of Spokane and director of Tribal organizations, I’ve faced and overcome huge challenges to restore forests, fish, and waters. I’m well prepared to take charge of the broad mission of Washington’s Department of Natural Resources.
Leaders from across the state support me because they believe in my work ethic, courage, and accomplishments. I’ve been in the trenches helping rural communities prosper, and expanding outdoor recreation options for urban dwellers. I’ve stood firm for the principal that what’s good for the environment is good for the economy, and I’ve helped adversaries become allies over common goals of long-term sustainability. You can trust me to wisely manage and protect our state’s cherished public lands in the face of climate change, with forward-thinking adaptive management. As a mother and grandmother of Washingtonians, I fight to maintain the irreplaceable natural heritage we share – pure water, clean air, and vibrant forests.
I am asking for your endorsement and contribution to elect me as your next Commissioner of Public Lands.
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