Some elected offices sound like patronage for Midwest politicians, circa 1933. Commissioner of Public Lands. Insurance Commissioner. Superintendent of Public Instruction. (Cue a snapshot of Harry Truman during the Pendergast-machine years.)
A populist legacy, borne of James J. Hill and the big-railroad era, freighted Washington’s constitution with a slew of executive-level electeds who might otherwise be gubernatorial appointees. Should low-information voters — meaning most of us — make the call, like a writ small version of voting for the director of the Social Security Administration?
Well, we do, even if a couple offices — think Lieutenant Governor — merit a fresh gander to determine if they meet the what’s-the-purpose-here test. Thankfully, Washington benefits from a number of statewide officeholders who are competent and shrewd, properly executing their mandate and often threading out-of-the-box strategies with an innovative leadership style. For this, Washingtonians can be grateful.
State Treasurer Jim McIntire is emblematic of an engaged approach that’s all the more impressive in the wake of the Great Recession. In addition to managing the state’s treasury, McIntire has wisely pushed for SJR 8221 which will cut the state’s constitutional debt limit from 9 to 8 percent over a multi-year span. The measure, which flows from McIntire’s service as chair of the Commission on State Debt, will also add stability to capital construction projects that benefit education, state facilities and recreation; lower the share of the operating budget to pay interest and principal on the debt; tamp down borrowing costs by safeguarding the state’s credit rating; and, slowly chip away at Washington’s long-term debt burden. McIntire clearly merits a second term.
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, seeking his fourth term, has achieved a consumer-first record that offers ballast as the state prepares for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014. (The centerpiece is the Washington Health Insurance Exchange.) Kreidler has labored successfully in his primary mission, to assist consumers when they’re hit with denied or delayed claims. He also blunted the ill-considered attempt by Premera Blue Cross to convert to for-profit status, a switch that would not have been in the public interest. Now Kreidler is situated to help shepherd the next governor through a maze of bureaucratic health-care hurdles. His service and experience couldn’t be more timely.
While McIntire and Kreidler face token opposition, Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark, faces a spirited challenger in Republican Clint Didier. Didier, who ran against Sen. Patty Murray in 2012, but lost in the primary to Dino Rossi, is an Eltopia farmer who played in two Super Bowls for the Washington Redskins. He is a very conservative, property rights’ alternative to an incumbent who has done a magnificent job managing Washington’s working forests and aquatic lands. This includes protecting 2,800 acres of forest near Lake Roesiger in Snohomish County and helping conceive the Community Forest Trust, an initiative to preserve forest and open space near urban centers. Goldmark has also been a champion for Puget Sound clean-up, launching the Puget SoundCorps, employing veterans and young people in aquatic restoration. He is an exemplar of all that a statewide officeholder should be — indefatigable, principled and dedicated to the future of Washington.
The Herald Editorial Board strongly recommends the re-election of Jim McIntire, Mike Kreidler and Peter Goldmark.