Hilary Franz

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Hilary Franz
Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands
Assumed office
January 11, 2017
Preceded byPeter J. Goldmark
Personal details
Born1969/1970 (age 48–49)
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceBainbridge Island, Washington
Alma materSmith College
Northeastern University School of Law (J.D.)

Hilary S. Franz (born 1969/1970) is an American politician and conservation attorney from Washington state who serves as the State Commissioner of Public Lands. She is a Democrat who was previously a member of the Bainbridge Island city council and was elected as commissioner in 2016.

Early life and education[edit]

Franz was born in the Pacific Northwest and raised in the area, graduating from St. Mary's Academy in Portland, Oregon.[1] She was a competitive ice skater for twelve years as a child and teenager, frequenting the same ice rinks as future Olympian Tonya Harding.[2][3] Franz graduated from Smith College with a bachelor's degree in English language and government and the Northeastern University School of Law with a juris doctor.[4] She practiced as an attorney in the Seattle area from 1997 to 2011, specializing in environmental law and conservation.[1][5]

Political career[edit]

Franz was elected to the Bainbridge Island city council in 2008 and served one term, during which she lobbied the state government for the establishment of the area's first open water marina at Eagle Harbor.[6] After briefly considering a run for the Washington State House of Representatives, Franz joined Seattle-based conservation organization Futurewise as its director.[6][7] She served on several regional conservation and land management boards, including committees of the Puget Sound Regional Council.[1]

Franz announced her intention to run for State Commissioner of Public Lands in April 2016, looking to fill the seat of retiring commissioner Peter J. Goldmark.[7] She received the early endorsement of Goldmark, as well as former King County Executive Ron Sims and the Bullitt Center.[7] Franz finished second overall during the primary election, advancing to the general election alongside Republican candidate Steve McLaughlin and ahead of seven other Democrats.[8] With the further endorsements of two former governors, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, and a coalition of environmental groups and unions,[2] Franz won 53 percent of the vote in the general election but failed to win any counties in Eastern Washington.[9]

Franz was sworn in as Commissioner of Public Lands on January 11, 2017.[10] During the first year of her term, the Department of Natural Resources faced a minor wildfire season caused by prolonged heat similar to those of previous years.[11] The state government prepared a new forest management plan to reduce the effectiveness of future wildfires by introducing new restoration measures and prescribed burns in Eastern Washington to thin out overgrown forests.[12]

On August 19, 2017, a fish farm near Cypress Island in Skagit County accidentally released hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon and caused an ecological disaster. Franz ordered an investigation into the farm and announced that the farm would be removed for various violations of its state license and lease agreement.[13] Franz was also part of the state government's effort to halt federal plans for offshore drilling in the Pacific Ocean near the Olympic Peninsula.[14]

The 2018 wildfire season was more severe than the previous year and prompted the state government to declare a state of emergency after the Department of Natural Resources had been overwhelmed in its response to 891 fires by late July.[15] The season had 1,850 recorded fires, setting a new state record, and Franz issued a request to the state legislature for a $55 million budget to expand the department's fire-fighting resources.[16] Franz proposed the hiring of 30 full-time wildland firefighters, the purchase of two helicopters, and the creation of a fire-training academy specifically for wildfires.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Franz has three sons and lived on a farm in Bainbridge Island prior to being elected as commissioner.[18] Her family owns a plot of forestland in Pierce County, Washington, which includes a habitat of Ponderosa pine that is uncommon west of the Cascade Range.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Kramer, Becky (July 5, 2016). "Crowded lands commissioner field wants to take on wildfire preparedness". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Mapes, Lynda V. (October 10, 2016). "Lands-commissioner hopefuls vary widely in backgrounds, views". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  3. ^ Mikkelsen, Drew (February 8, 2018). "WA Lands Commissioner ice skated with Tonya Harding as a child". KING 5 News. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  4. ^ "People News". Smith College. February 27, 2019. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "Franz sworn in as Washington Commissioner of Public Lands". Bainbridge Island Review. January 22, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Baurick, Tristan (April 22, 2016). "Former Bainbridge councilwoman enters state lands commissioner race". Kitsap Sun. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Connelly, Joel (April 20, 2016). "Conservation attorney launches campaign for state lands commissioner". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  8. ^ Long, Katherine (August 3, 2016). "McLaughlin, Franz lead for lands commissioner; Miloscia, McCarthy ahead for auditor". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  9. ^ Le, Phuong (December 25, 2016). "New Washington lands commissioner: Address climate change, rural growth". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  10. ^ "Franz sworn in as Washington's 14th Lands Commissioner" (Press release). Washington State Department of Natural Resources. January 11, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  11. ^ Lundy, Rose (September 5, 2017). "Wildfires pour smoke, ash into area; relief in sight". The Daily News. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  12. ^ Geranios, Nicholas K. (October 25, 2017). "20-year plan aims to reduce Eastern Washington wildfires, improve forest health". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  13. ^ Mapes, Lynda V. (December 17, 2017). "Violations prompt Washington state to cancel Atlantic salmon farm lease at Port Angeles". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  14. ^ Camden, Jim (February 6, 2018). "Washington will fight offshore drilling, Inslee says". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  15. ^ Camden, Jim (August 1, 2018). "Wildfires prompted emergency call for Guard help". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  16. ^ Hill, Kip (January 12, 2019). "Record wildfire-fighting budget requested by Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  17. ^ O'Sullivan, Joseph (January 17, 2019). "Washington state wants to add firefighters and training academy to beef up wildfire response". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  18. ^ "Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz". Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  19. ^ Spaw, Matt (February 6, 2017). "New lands commissioner has a lot on her plate". The Everett Herald. Retrieved March 7, 2019.