Governor – Hilary Franz (2024)

Legislative Questionnaire 2022

Candidate Info

Candidate Name:   Hilary Franz
Position Sought:    Governor
Are you an incumbent for this position?    Non-incumbent
Home Legislative District:    36th
Are you a Democrat?    Yes

Campaign Info

Campaign Manager or Point of Contact:    Nick Merlino

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.

Hilary Franz has proudly served as Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands since her election in 2016 – just the second woman elected to that office. She is relentless in her desire to create bold, transformational change. Crosscut summed it up best: “She has the energy of a venti-fueled dynamo and a mind that works at a wildfire pace.”

Hilary has a leadership style that is rare: she brings people together across long-standing divisions to make things better for all, not just for the few. She’s earned high marks from leaders across the state, including in rural Washington, who’ve praised her willingness to solve local issues, increase funding for public schools, and invest in creating good-paying jobs throughout our state.

Hilary’s Northwest roots run deep. Her grandparents were cattle ranchers in Pierce County. She grew up in Portland, raised by a single father. Her dad, a proud union member, took great pride in serving the community. After school, Hilary would visit him at the fire station where he worked. It was there that she learned dedication and purpose. Every day, she saw fire fighters put their lives on the line to help complete strangers. These heroes taught her that progress comes from working together and putting people first. A lesson she never forgot.

After graduating from college, Hilary returned home to raise her three boys on a small Bainbridge Island farm. On the farm, Hilary instilled in her boys the same lessons her father instilled in her: To treat others how you want to be treated; To take risks and be ok with falling down – as long as you get right back up; To believe that our greatest potential is unlocked by building each other up, not by tearing each other down.

Hilary is running for Governor to tackle our biggest challenges, and to disrupt the status-quo because we don’t have time to waste. She knows we must:

Protect the environment that sustains us
Build an economy that lifts up all Washingtonians by creating family-wage jobs and supporting people
Ensure everyone has a roof over their head and our kids have safe, healthy schools to learn in

As the leader of Washington’s wildfire fighting force, Hilary pushed for new strategies to respond to fires quickly and keep them small. She secured record-setting, bipartisan funding to expand our firefighting team, restore the health of our forests, and help communities prepare for and to recover from fires.

Hilary defends our public lands and waters. When the federal government tried to open our waters to offshore drilling during the Trump administration, Hilary refused to allow drilling equipment to come to our coastline. After a net-pen collapse released hundreds of thousands of non-native salmon into our waters, Hilary ordered the shutdown of all commercial net-pens.

Hilary has been leading from the frontlines when it comes to the climate crisis – developing the state’s first Climate Resilience Action Plan, expanding wind and solar power in public lands, safeguarding Puget Sound, and making transformational investments to preserve forestland and restore salmon habitat.

Hilary knows we must support working families and ensure economic opportunity for all. The lands she manages generate hundreds of millions of dollars each year for schools and public services, like libraries and hospitals. Because our public lands are a climate and a housing solution, she has pushed to, for the first time, build housing on public lands. And she has allocated millions of dollars to spark economic opportunities in struggling communities.

Hilary has traveled to every small town and big city in this state. Everywhere she’s gone, she has seen the determination and resilience that represent the very best of Washington. She has also seen the common challenges: Wages not keeping up with costs; unaffordable housing; childcare out of reach; a changing climate impacting our health and well-being. Fortunately all of these challenges are solvable when we come together – and Hilary is ready to get to work.
Hilary is running for Governor to finally unlock the true potential of our great state. To bring us together to make real progress on the ground, not just make headlines. Because by working together and putting people first, we can create a strong, united, and resilient Washington.

2. What prompted you to run for this office?

Hilary is running for Governor of Washington to make bold progress on the most significant challenges Washington is facing and to do so quickly.

It’s a sense of urgency. She’s brought to her job as Commissioner of Public Lands every day. When she was first elected in 2016 – only the second woman to serve in the role – she knew that we didn’t have time to waste in tackling the growing impacts of climate change. The status quo wouldn’t cut it.

So she fought for groundbreaking, historic new investments in how our state fights wildfires. When she took on that challenge, Crosscut described her as having the “energy of a venti-fueled dynamo and a mind that works at a wildfire pace.”

She’s running to lead our state because our challenges are too big for us to play it safe. If we want to keep up, we need to make progress, and she will bring that same energy to the governor’s office.

The impacts of climate change are bearing down on all of us, and we have to fight it with everything we’ve got to protect our lands, waters, and communities.

Our housing crisis isn’t just in the cities along I-5; we’re seeing it in places like Omak and Forks.

And from Ocean Shores to Okanagan, Seattle to Spokane, income inequality is growing, and people are being pushed out of the middle class.

These are tough challenges; we all know that. But we can solve them. She believes we need leaders who are bold, willing to take risks, and able to bring us together around our shared values.

Her Northwest roots run deep, and she knows we can meet these challenges head-on. Her grandparents were cattle ranchers in Pierce County. She and her sister grew up in Portland, raised by a single father. Her dad was a do-or-die union guy who took great pride in serving the community. After school, she would visit him at the fire station where he worked. It was there she learned about dedication and purpose. These heroes taught her that progress comes from working together and putting people first.

It was a lesson she never forgot, and it’s how she has led in her time as Commissioner of Public Lands – being unyielding in my fight to tackle problems and push my agency into new areas, but also being unyielding in winning people over.

Hilary is running for governor to unite us to tackle these challenges and create stronger communities, a thriving economy, and a better future for everyone.

3. What are your campaign’s most important themes, issues, or priorities (three to five)?

Protect the environment that sustains us
Build an economy that lifts up all Washingtonians by creating family-wage jobs and supporting people
Ensure everyone has a roof over their head and our kids have safe, healthy schools to learn in

4. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?

We are building a seasoned team of campaign staff and consultants, earning the support of unions, and legislators both at the municipal and at the state level, clubs, caucuses and PACs and associations, and raising the funds necessary to be competitive.

Our campaign has raised over a quarter of a million dollars and received nearly two dozen of endorsements after only being the race for about 45 days.

Part II –  Yes or No Questions, please qualify your response if necessary

1. Do you support steps to build a fairer economy through tax reform, including a wealth tax?    Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #1
2. Do you support the right of public workers, excluding military, to bargain and strike?    Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #2
3. Do you support legalizing multi-unit homes statewide, as proposed in the #Homes4WA bill, to help alleviate the affordable housing crisis?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #3
4. Do you support legislation to address climate change and protect our environment, including the Keep Washington Evergreen Act?    Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #4
5. Do you support women’s unrestricted access to reproductive healthcare?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #5
6. Do you support achieving a universal, affordable, quality single payer healthcare program?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #6
7. Do you support overturning “Citizens United” and imposing limits on campaign finance contributions?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #7
8. Do you support laws regulating the purchase, ownership, and carrying of firearms?     Yes
Optional: Qualify Your Response to #8    

Part III – Free Response (Please answer at least four questions fully, consider the remaining three optional)

1. Why are you running as a Democrat? What aspects of the Democratic platform most resonate with you?

I believe fundamentally that government can be a force to create a more just, fair, and prosperous society, values which are reflected in the Democratic Party. We believe in taking action to correct injustices and lift up the disadvantaged. To create inclusive and welcoming communities and provide care to our neighbors when they are in need. To ensure that everyone has the dignity of a good job that pays enough to support themselves and their families. These values also reflect my priorities: the need for climate action, living wages and union rights, universal health care, a good education, a safe and affordable home for all, and reproductive freedom.

I also greatly appreciate that the Democratic party is a big tent. We recognize the inherent value in each of us, and that our diversity is our greatest strength – in our policymaking, our democracy, and our economy. . That diversity forces us to have difficult conversations at times, but also allows us to be bridge and table builders.

2. What important state and local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the media?

Housing is the number one crisis facing our state. And it is our moral responsibility to address this crisis and ensure everyone in the state of Washington has a roof over their head.

Over the last decade, as I have worked in every corner of the state, I have seen our housing crisis grow. In every corner of our state, big cities to small towns, I have seen the increased cost of housing and the housing shortage everywhere – not just in Spokane and Seattle, but Republic and Raymond. I have seen it with my own employees at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who, despite having a good government salary, can no longer afford to live near their work, towns like Omak, Colville, and Forks. Housing has become costly everywhere — in our urban areas as well as our rural areas because of the growing housing shortage, lower wage growth and rising income inequality. Unfortunately, the global pandemic exacerbated even further housing stability in our state and the increased cost of materials, stricter lending practices and rising interest rates have made things even worse.

This is a crisis – a crisis that has only been growing over the last 2 decades. We must treat this crisis with the same urgency as we treat a wildfire crisis. It must be the highest number one priority for the Governor and all local and state leaders, to protect and save lives. And we must rapidly increase housing units across the entire housing spectrum and across the entire state.

This issue is deeply personal to me. I experienced housing instability in my own life. At times growing up, I had to sleep on coaches as my family moved from place to place. I know the impacts on a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health – especially a child’s – not knowing whether they will have a safe, healthy place to sleep.

As a land use attorney, city council member and the Executive Director of Futurewise, I drafted and secured numerous local and state affordable housing policies as well as pushed for increased investments in affordable housing at the local and state level. In these roles, I pushed for increased density in our urban areas, developed TOD policies and legislation, and worked to secure investments like the last Seattle Housing Levy.

As Commissioner of Public Lands, I have demonstrated my commitment to this priority by – for the first time in DNR’s history – pushing our agency to build housing on public lands. In my role, I manage 6 million acres of public land. This includes residential homes on agricultural lands as well as on Lake Union. It also includes thousands of acres of land in urban and suburban areas like Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Silverdale, Bothell, Bellingham, Shoreline, to name a few. This DNR land has never been utilized for housing, but it is zoned and well suited for it. Under my leadership, I have been leading the charge to increase housing development on our land in three ways: 1) building housing on our facilities to provide for our own employees who are becoming priced out of the market, 2) transferring land to housing authorities and housing developers to convert empty land into housing, and 3) leasing our land for housing development. As part of this work, I secured legislation that allows our agency to do 99-year leases so we could lease our lands for housing, this takes the cost of the land, making it more affordable to homebuyers, and in turn their lease payments fund schools, teachers, libraries, community and health services, and local fire districts.

We are currently working on a number of properties to build affordable and workforce housing in Pierce County, Forks, Bothell, Seattle, Spokane, and Walla Walla. These properties can produce between 100 to 300 homes individually.

As Governor, I would have even more ability to address our housing shortage and ensure everyone has a roof over their head and a place to call home. I will make increasing housing security, reducing homelessness, and housing-for-all my top priority of my administration. To achieve this goal, I will develop a comprehensive statewide housing first plan that meets the diverse needs with diverse housing solutions created through robust and ongoing community input. This robust statewide housing strategy will fully develop and invest in solutions that prevent evictions, promote housing stability and rapidly increase affordable housing as well as workforce housing statewide. And to ensure we are achieving our goals, I will create an Office of Housing – with a director responsive to the Governor, developing and implementing strategies and accountable for annual results.
I will prioritize implementing and investing in a suite of statewide policies and programs that prevent eviction and promote housing stability. Improving housing stability is how families succeed and how we build thriving communities. A mortgage provides stability – you know what you’re going to pay each month. But home ownership is not a reality for many people so we need to provide similar stability for renters. When we build more affordable rental housing, we can offer the same stability through predictability for tenants. In addition to increasing non-profit affordable rental housing, we should put in strong protections to cap extreme rent increases and improve tenant notice dramatically. Additionally, we must increase funding to support rental assistance programs.

Currently, 43% of Seattle residents, and a slightly smaller percentage in other cities, are cost-burdened, spending >30% of income on housing. In addition to this 43%, there are many additional renters who would prefer to own and are unable to save to own a home. Too many are struggling with other household costs and unable to build wealth because of their housing burden. To address this, I will pursue a suite of policies and investments focused on addressing wage security, expanding workforce development, ensuring affordable health care, childcare, and adult care, and protecting people from unfair or deceptive business and housing practices. I will also work to improve availability and access (via single stop service centers and information apps) for support services, including help with rent arrears, childcare, health services and food assistance. People with financial stability are less likely to be evicted, miss a housing or utility payment. For parents, it means they will have more time and energy to care for their children and create stability for them. Stability will also fosters connections to community and the ability to turn attention to longer-term financial professional and educational goals, which translates into less stress and better mental and physical health for the whole family.

Currently, less than 10% of our supply of apartments in Washington’s major cities is subsidized affordable housing owned by non-profits. Thus, another major strategy will be providing dedicated annual significant funding to non-profit organizations to preserve existing subsidized and unsubsidized affordable housing. I will also ensure in my budget significant robust funding for new affordable housing developments to meet the need for increased affordable housing across the state and bring them to fruition faster. The $400 million investment this session was a great start. We need to increase that number dramatically every year to not only address the significant shortage but also keep up with demand for affordable housing.

In addition to policies and investments that help renters stay in their homes and also save for a home, I will implement strong protections to help renters once a rent payment is missed all the way to after a landlord has filed for eviction. Our number one priority must be preventing homelessness. These protections include funding resources for educating residents on their legal housing rights, eviction prevention support services, pre-eviction legal aid and eviction defense screening and assistance line, and right to counsel and legal advice clinics that provide residents quick access to a lawyer to form a strategy before, during and outside/inside court. I will also put forth and support protections to bolster renters’ rights, preventing unfair, abusive, and extreme rent increases. I will also significantly fund emergency rental assistance programs to assist residents with arrears and prospective payments during financial hardship and improve the chance residents can stay in their homes.

Additionally, I will also prioritize additional financial tools and incentives to increase rentals for households with vouchers, exiting homeless shelters, vulnerable youth, and young adults exiting the foster system.

Besides these major investments, I will focus on investing in increasing affordable housing unit production through other land use tools, like inclusionary zoning, affordable housing requirements attached to increased density and up-zoning and using the large amount of government land in our state for affordable housing development. I support increasing zoning to at least 5-8 stories everywhere within ½ mile of high-capacity transit and reducing permitting barriers for projects in these zones. And this increased density zoning should come with strong affordable housing requirements, especially since it is adjacent to high-capacity transit. Washingtonians have paid for these transit investments; we need to give people unfettered access to live next to them and we need to protect the affordability of a significant number of these units to make sure displacement doesn’t happen again for marginalized groups. In places without high-capacity transit, we should allow for ADU’s and/or one structure with the same form-based constraints as single-family homes used to have (but the single structure can be subdivided). I would also allow subdivision of lots so that ADU’s can be owned separately. On sites >5,000 SF, I would allow additional structures at a density comparable to that allowed on 2,000-3,000 sf lots.

These are just some of the major policies and investments I would make to ensure Washington became a leader nationally in affordable housing and preventing homelessness and in ensuring everyone has a roof over their head and a safe place to call home.

3. What legislative reforms do you support to achieve greater equity and inclusion for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals in our communities?

4. What are some obstacles inherent in proposed legislative solutions to climate change? How would you approach those obstacles in order to best overcome or minimize any negative effects?

First, we must have the desire – and courage – to have the political will to do what’s necessary. Reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to a clean energy future will meet resistance that is inherent whenever great social change occurs. We need a leader who is committed to urgent climate action and building climate resilience throughout Washington. When Governor, I will not be banking political capital to trade on at a later date, I will do what’s necessary to tackle our and our children’s greatest threat: climate change.

As Commissioner of Public Lands, I made DNR a nationwide leader when it comes to protecting our public lands and waters and building climate resilience. We are, for the first time, building clean wind and solar power on public lands. We are protecting and expanding carbon sequesters like high-ecological forest via a first-in–the-nation carbon project and other conservation tools, and reintroducing kelp and eelgrass meadows through a Kelp Protection Initiative and the largest aquatic easement in the country along Hood Canal. We’re protecting our iconic salmon and orca by banning commercial net-pens and removing culverts to restore thousands of miles of salmon habitat. We developed the state’s first-ever Plan for Climate Resilience and hired the state’s first Chief Resilience Officer. And, in the face of a forest health crisis, we developed the first Forest Health Strategic Plan that has led to us restoring the health of more than 250,000 acres of state, federal, private, and tribal land, making Washington a model for the nation.

This is the innovation and leadership I have brought to my role as Commissioner of Public Lands. I will bring this same energy and commitment as Governor.

5. What safety, law, or justice reforms are you currently in favor of, and how will you work to implement them?

6. What steps do you think need to be taken to improve voter turnout and increase voter trust in our election process?

First, it’s important to recognize the important progress our state has made and how we’re a leader in protecting and expanding voting rights, from paid postage, to impact statements on initiatives that cut funding for critical programs, to automatic restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated people. These have been hugely positive steps, and I think Washington can continue to be a leader for the nation by expanding our automatic voter registration laws, addressing unequal curing rates for ballots cast by Latino voters who are more likely to have their signatures questioned and less likely to have their ballots fixed, and continuing to strengthen Washington’s Voting Rights Act to ensure that any proposed legislation pertaining to voting won’t have a disproportionate impact on voting rights or access to voting for people of color, similar to provisions that used to be included in the federal Voting Rights Act.

7. Do you think public schools are adequately funded? If not, what minimum requirements should be met in an adequately funded public school system? What specific forms of taxation would you support to attain that funding?

Printed Name    Hilary Franz
Date (mm/dd/yy)    07/05/2023

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