Mona Das. COURTESY PHOTO, Mona Das

Mona Das. COURTESY PHOTO, Mona Das

Former Kent state Sen. Mona Das to run for lands commissioner

Represented 47th Legislative District from 2019 to 2022

Mona Das, of Kent, a former state senator from the 47th Legislative District, is running for state commissioner of public lands.

Current Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is running for governor rather than reelection. Both races will be on the 2024 ballot.

“Our next commissioner of public lands must recognize the challenges so many Washingtonians face, and lead an agency prepared to fight hard for the next generation,” said Das, a Democrat, who announced her campaign in a July 5 press release. “Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time and we need a bold leader in this office. From firefighters to forest industry leaders, protected lands to recreational services, our state needs a proven coalition builder and change-maker equipped to meet all the needs we face at this time.”

Democratic state Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, of Port Angeles, announced in June that he’s running for lands commissioner. He represents the 24th Legislative District, which covers Jefferson, Clallam and Grays Harbor counties. As of July 6, nobody else has officially announced a campaign.

Voters elected Das to the Senate in November 2018 over incumbent Joe Fain, R-Auburn in a close race. She decided not to run for reelection in 2022. The 47th District covers Kent’s East Hill as well as Covington, Black Diamond and portions of Auburn, Renton and Maple Valley.

Das said she is running in part to ensure we are using our state lands to fight climate change, protect Washington’s natural heritage for future generations and to modernize state lands to ensure working forests provide a viable economy now and into the future.

Das said her successes during her term as senator included championing and passing bills which banned the manufacture, sale and distribution of certain single-use plastics; creating a working group on natural disaster mitigation and resilience, and championing millions of dollars in climate resilience projects like the Soos Creek Hatchery in Auburn.

“Senator Das has the heart of an environmentalist, the experience of a successful businesswoman, and the skills needed to bring together all Washingtonians to understand, cultivate, and nurture our public lands,” said Tina Podlodowski, former Washington state Democratic party chairwoman, in the Das press release. “As our next commissioner of public lands, she’ll do this for our people now, and for generations to come.”

The lands commissioner makes $161,905 a year, according to The pay is set by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. The salary will increase to $166,762 in July 2024.

“I will always work on behalf of Washingtonians, as will the Department of Natural Resources under my leadership,” Das said. “I’ve never taken corporate PAC money, and I won’t start now.”

Das said she has more than 30 endorsements from elected leaders statewide.

“Senator Das cares deeply for our environment and for our Mother Earth.” said Sen. Claudia Kauffman, D-Kent, who replaced Das in the Senate. “It is through her commitment to our humanity, our shared values, and our strongest alliance that I fully endorse her for commissioner of public lands. She is a woman who has gained the respect of her peers and our community and deserves our support.”

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