Peter J. Goldmark

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Peter J. Goldmark
Commissioner of Public Lands, Washington Department of Natural Resources
In office
January 2009 – January 2017
Preceded by Doug Sutherland
Succeeded by Hilary Franz
Personal details
Born Peter James Goldmark
(1946-08-04) August 4, 1946 (age 71)
Okanogan, Washington, U.S.
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Georgia (deceased), remarried to Wendy
Children five children
Residence Okanogan, Washington
Alma mater BA Haverford College
PhD University of California, Berkeley
Occupation Rancher and Wheat Farmer
Profession Molecular Biology
Fifth Congressional District of Washington

Peter James Goldmark (born August 4, 1946) was the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands and heads the Washington Department of Natural Resources. He is a Democrat from a rural part of Okanogan County, Washington, outside of the town of Okanogan.

Goldmark has placed a lifelong emphasis on agriculture, science, education, and public service. His primary career experience includes ranching in Eastern Washington; over thirty years of volunteering to fighting wildland fires; and a PhD in molecular biology. He has published papers in national and international scientific journals on plant molecular genetics and currently runs a wheat breeding program for crop improvement.[1]

In 2008, Goldmark won the election for Commissioner of Public Lands (head of the Washington Department of Natural Resources) against incumbent Doug Sutherland in a tightly contested race. The major focus points of his campaign for Public Land Commissioner include preventing forest from being converted into strip malls or development; encouraging sustainable timber practices to maintain steady income and areas of recreation for the state; cleaning up Puget Sound; promoting the use of biofuels; effective wildland fire management; and maintaining clean water for drinking, salmon habitat, and shellfish harvesting. He was succeeded by Hilary Franz after the 2016 election, where he did not run.

Early life[edit]

Goldmark was born in Okanogan, Washington, the son of Irma "Sally" (née Ringe) and John E. Goldmark, who bought the family ranch in 1946. His father was of half Austrian Jewish and half British Isles descent, and his mother was from a Protestant family of German ancestry.[2][3] Peter began his education in a one-room school house at Duley Lake near Okanogan, Washington. He graduated from Okanogan High School in Okanogan in 1963 and Haverford College in 1967.[4]

Goldmark's father, John, had been a Washington State legislator. After a local newspaper, the Tonasket Tribune, smeared him as a Communist and possibly cost him re-election in 1962, John and his wife Sally sued for libel and won, in a landmark case.[5] Goldmark's brother Charles, along with his immediate family, was murdered in Seattle in 1985 by David Lewis Rice, who falsely believed them to be Jewish Communists.[6]



Peter J. Goldmark is the owner of Double J. Ranch, which covers 7,000-acre (28 km2) in Okanogan County. He also is the founder and chief scientist of a biotechnology research laboratory, DJR Research, Inc., in Okanogan. Most recently he served on the Washington State University Board of Regents.

Career awards include being named Washington State Conservation Farmer of the Year (1983). Additional career notes include thirty years as a volunteer wildland firefighter in Washington State. He was also former Director of the Washington Department of Agriculture, resigning in under six months (reports of exact time differs) saying "It is not possible for me to fulfill the requirements of this important and demanding job in state government and still meet the needs of my family."[7] [8] [9] He was recently noted as saying he is ready for a full-time government post as Commissioner of Public Lands, and addressed concerns over the short period of time with the Department of Agriculture, citing that his children are now grown and he has hired additional staff to help manage the ranch.[7]

2006 campaign[edit]

In 2006, Goldmark ran for Congress against Cathy McMorris, who was hailed as a rising star and a heavy favorite for re-election. The increasing visibility and fundraising ability of Goldmark's campaign prompted to change its race rating to Republican Favored from Safe Republican in late August, 2006—stating that McMorris was still likely to win re-election, but that Goldmark was providing her with serious competition. McMorris ended up defeating Goldmark (56.4% to 43.6%) by 13% even after the DCCC designed the race as one of their "Red To Blue" races, targeting it for donations and support.[14]

2008 campaign[edit]

Goldmark's 2008 campaign focus was to "restore the integrity of the management of 15 million acres (61,000 km2) of forest, rangeland, and water resources."[1] He brings ranching and science experience, as well as a conservation ethic, to Washington Department of Natural Resources. He hopes to maximize the productivity and sustainability of jobs, recreation, and wildlife.[1] He beat Doug Sutherland by 31,000 votes.


Energy Policy[edit]

Goldmark is campaigning for a reduction in dependence on foreign oil by supporting the use of fuels derived from biomass, like biodiesel and raising the mileage requirements for new cars and trucks. He also supports decentralized renewable energy initiatives to promote energy self-reliance in rural areas and supports investing in wind energy.[1]

Puget Sound and the Environment[edit]

Goldmark places a strong emphasis on the conservation of the Puget Sound,[1] and the various rivers comprising its basin, for the restoration of salmon and other aquatic species. Clean water is important to the Washington Department of Natural Resources because a portion of their budget is based on the harvesting of wild geoduck.

Goldmark is a board member of the Washington State Biodiversity Council. Former Governor Gary Locke created the Council in 2004 to develop and promote more effective ways of conserving Washington's biodiversity.[15]


Goldmark ranches with a strong conservation philosophy. He adheres to methods that would conserve the soil while growing crops and managing the whole ranch with a philosophy of care instead of one of exploitation.[4] In 1999, Goldmark co-founded a nonprofit called Farming and the Environment comprising a coalition of environmentalists and farmers. The group is dedicated to ensuring the ecological and economic health of agricultural lands and rural communities. The hope is to build a bridge between farmers and environmentalists. The group has worked together to meet the needs of a healthy environment and maintain economically viable agricultural opportunities at the same time.[4][16] Goldmark says that farmers and ranchers fulfill a mandate to provide food for people and at the same time, they seek to be good stewards of the land and have to be very much concerned with the environment.[17]

Sustainable Forest Management[edit]

Goldmark is concerned over the loss of working forests to sprawl and unsustainable logging practices. He wants to "end sweetheart deals that give away public resources"[1] and is working to limit clearcutting on dangerous slopes.

Campaign Financing and Government Ethics[edit]

Peter Goldmark takes a very strong stance against lobbyist gifts and meals given to elected officials. He has vowed to refuse all such gifts and has challenged his opponent to take the same position. Goldmark did accept $202,855 in PAC money during the 2006 election cycle.[18]

Electoral history[edit]

Washington 5th Congressional District Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Cathy McMorris (inc.) 134,967 56.40
Democratic Peter Goldmark 104,357 43.60
Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Peter Goldmark 1,416,904 50.55
Republican Doug Sutherland 1,385,903 49.45
Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Primary Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Peter Goldmark (inc.) 683,448 51.88
Republican Clint Didier 540,907 41.06
Independent Stephen Sharon 92,993 7.06
Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Peter Goldmark (inc.) 1,692,083 58.74
Republican Clint Didier 1,188,411 41.26

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Peter Goldmark election campaign site
  2. ^
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b c d "Land Stewardship", Haverford College Alumni Magazine, Haverford, Pennsylvania, Fall 2004, archived from the original on 2005-11-10 
  5. ^ Melvin Rader, False Witness, University of Washington Press, [1969] (1979), ISBN 0-295-95660-7. p. 166–189.
  6. ^ Joel Connelly, Rural Democrat mounts an uphill battle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2006-03-27. Accessed online 2010-04-07.
  7. ^ a b Cornwall, Warren (27 October 2008), "Urban Voters May Swing Election for Lands Position", Seattle Times, Seattle 
  8. ^ "Agriculture Director Resigns", Seattle Times, Seattle, 13 June 1993 
  9. ^ "State Sen. Jesernig Running Hard For Agriculture Secretary Position", Seattle Times, Seattle, 21 June 1993 
  10. ^ Sustainable Northwest: DJR Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Washington State University Board of Regents Profiles Archived 2005-12-31 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Washington Council on International Trade Archived November 4, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ WSU - UW Advisory Board
  14. ^ Democrat is a Credible Threat Archived October 27, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Washington State Biodiversity Council members[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Farming and the Environment - About Us Archived 2005-12-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "es_5water", Methow Valley News, Twisp, Washington, archived from the original on September 11, 2005 
  18. ^ Goldmark for Congress (1 December 2006). "FEC Form 3: Report of Receipts and Disbursements". Federal Elections Commission. Archived from the original on 14 July 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 

External links[edit]