Democrat Hilary Franz defeated Republican Steve McLaughlin for Commissioner of Public Lands.

Franz garnered 54 percent of the vote as of Thursday afternoon.

While often overlooked, the Commissioner of Public Lands turned into a very competitive race after current commissioner Peter Goldmark unexpectedly withdrew from running for re-election.

Franz, an attorney who specializes in environmental law, and McLaughlin, a retired U.S. Navy Commander, emerged as the frontrunners in the crowded field for Goldmark’s open seat.

The scope of public lands commissioner scope spreads from fighting wildfire to influencing timber, fishing and agriculture.

In addition to her work in environmental law, Franz was also the executive director of environmental non-profit Futurewise. Until 2011, Franz spent three years on the Bainbridge Island City Council.

McLaughlin is a retired U.S. Navy commander who spent more than 25 years serving the country at home and overseas. He is also an incident command instructor. According to his LinkedIn profile, McLaughlin has been a homeland security and counterterrorism director at Sound & Sea Technology since 2006.