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.