Washington state race for lands chief focused on wildfires

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Combating wildfires and maintaining forest health has become a key issue in the race for commissioner of public lands in Washington state. This year’s race pits incumbent Hilary Franz, a Democrat, against former fisheries biologist Sue Kuehl Pederson, a Republican. The winner on Nov. 3 will serve a four-year term. Kuehl Pederson has said Franz has not acted quickly enough to prevent wildfires. She has also questioned Franz’s emphasis on climate change as a factor in causing this year’s longer wildfire season. Franz said over 1.25 million acres need to be thinned over the next 20 years to remove the unnecessary tinder.