NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Meet the candidates vying to succeed Kris Lytton in the 40th LD: Alex Ramel

Edi­tor’s Note: This is the first install­ment in a series about the can­di­dates vying to suc­ceed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kris Lyt­ton in Wash­ing­ton’s 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict.

It’s not easy being a state leg­is­la­tor, but there does­n’t seem to be a short­age of peo­ple who want the job. In Wash­ing­ton’s 40th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, where vaunt­ed State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kris Lyt­ton is retir­ing after many years of ser­vice, four Democ­rats and two Repub­li­cans are vying to be her suc­ces­sor. The dis­trict includes San Juan Coun­ty as well as por­tions of What­com and Skag­it Coun­ties.

Among them is Alex Ramel.

Ramel grew up in Den­ver, but has been in Wash­ing­ton State for near­ly twen­ty years. He attend­ed West­ern Wash­ing­ton University’s Hux­ley Col­lege of the Envi­ron­ment where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy and Plan­ning. He has worked in envi­ron­men­tal pol­i­cy since grad­u­at­ing in 2006.

Ramel start­ed his career help­ing city and coun­ty gov­ern­ments with cli­mate action plan­ning. This led to a job at Sus­tain­able Con­nec­tion as Ener­gy and Pol­i­cy Direc­tor, where he devel­oped an ener­gy effi­cien­cy cam­paign for homes and small busi­ness­es.

He was instru­men­tal in the suc­cess of the Com­mu­ni­ty Ener­gy Chal­lenge which, since its incep­tion, has helped approx­i­mate­ly five hun­dred busi­ness­es cut their ener­gy costs. It’s also helped approx­i­mate­ly two thou­sand peo­ple and fam­i­lies reduce their month­ly ener­gy bills in What­com, Skag­it, Island and San Juan coun­ties.

The Com­mu­ni­ty Ener­gy Chal­lenge has also cre­at­ed sev­er­al dozen liv­ing wage jobs. Ramel says the pro­gram is con­sid­ered the most suc­cess­ful of its kind in the coun­try.

Ramel has also been active in local pol­i­tics.

He served on the board for Wash­ing­ton Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers, help­ing to get pro­gres­sives and envi­ron­men­tal advo­cates elect­ed to pub­lic office.

In 2011, he strong­ly opposed a pro­posed coal export ter­mi­nal in Cher­ry Point. It would have been the largest of six coal export projects pro­posed in Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon, and would have dou­bled Washington’s car­bon foot­print. As a vol­un­teer, Ramel coor­di­nat­ed the cam­paigns of four dif­fer­ent pro­gres­sive can­di­dates and ulti­mate­ly flipped the city coun­cil from a major­i­ty of inde­pen­dents to democ­rats.

“The skillset I bring is being able finds ways to work togeth­er, find­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties, and doing the hard work and sweat equi­ty of build­ing trust,” Ramel says. This is espe­cial­ly true in his cur­rent job at Stand.earth, where the cur­rent pri­or­i­ty is resist­ing oil indus­try expan­sion projects, and where Ramel has suc­cess­ful­ly found ways to col­lab­o­rate with (instead of alien­ate) refin­ery work­ers.

In fact, Ramel was endorsed this week by the Unit­ed Steel­work­ers Local 12–591.

Ramel was encour­aged to run by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Beth Doglio (D‑22nd Dis­trict) when it was announced that Lyt­ton would not be seek­ing reelec­tion.

Aside from work­ing to pro­tect Wash­ing­ton’s air, water, and soil, Ramel wants to make afford­able hous­ing more acces­si­ble. After speak­ing with over five hun­dred peo­ple in his dis­trict, Hamel says that rough­ly two-thirds of them expressed con­cern about how hard the increas­ing price of hous­ing was hit­ting them.

As Pres­i­dent of the board of Kul­shan Com­mu­ni­ty Land Trust, he has expe­ri­ence with per­ma­nent afford­able home­own­er projects, as well as plan­ning the bud­get for afford­able hous­ing con­struc­tion projects.

Hamel is a sin­gle father and says his six­teen-year-old son is his “num­ber one cam­paign­er.” He has a lit­tle less than eleven weeks left to make his pitch to vot­ers before the dead­line arrives to return bal­lots in Wash­ing­ton’s Top Two elec­tion.

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