Alex Ramel, candidate for State Representative
Alex Ramel, candidate for State Representative

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, 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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