A special nominating caucus called by the Washington State Democratic Central Committee today selected three nominees to succeed departed State Representative Jeff Morris in the 40th Legislative District, which encompasses San Juan County along with portions of Whatcom and Skagit counties.
Democratic precinct committee officers in the 40th were tasked with the responsibility of presenting to the Democratic Party’s statutory state central committee a list of three names to be forwarded to the legislative bodies of the aforementioned counties for a possible joint appointment. It is the party’s duty under the State Constitution to propose nominees for legislative vacancies.
From among a pool of seven candidates, the 40th’s PCOs selected the following individuals to be formally nominated by the Washington State Democratic Party:
- Environmental and climate justice activist Alex Ramel
- Bellingham City Councilmember Michael Lilliquist
- Indigenous Studies Foundation President Marco Morales Mendez
Four other individuals put their names forward, but were not chosen: Amanda Hubrik, Andrea Doll, Ashanti Monts-Treviska, and Rud Browne.
The Constitution does not require or state that the party rank its nominees, but the party does so anyway in the hopes of influencing who is actually appointed.
The last time the Democratic Party sent the Whatcom County Council and the Skagit + San Juan County Commissions a list of nominees for a vacancy in the 40th, the joint appointment went to the party’s second choice… Anacortes City Councilmember Liz Lovelett, who is now Senator Liz Lovelett.
Ramel was a contender in last year’s contest to select a replacement for retiring State Representative Kris Lytton, who unsuccessfully sought to be appointed to the Senate when Kevin Ranker abruptly resigned following the 2018 midterms (the position went to Liz Lovelett instead, as mentioned above).
A total of four Democrats sought to take over from Lytton: Ramel, Browne, Debra Lekanoff, and Tom Pasma. Lekanoff was the only Democrat to move on from the Top Two to the general election. Ramel finished in third place, behind Republican Michael Petrish, who became Lekanoff’s autumn opponent.
Ramel garnered 7,684 votes (19.13%) of the vote in the August 2018 Top Two election. While on the trail, he spoke to NPI’s Caitlin Harrington about his desire to serve the people as one of the state’s ninety-eight state representatives:
“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.
Ranked second on the party’s list is Bellingham City Councilmember Michael Lilliquist, who has a decade of experience in local government.
First elected to the Bellingham City Council in 2009, Michael served as President of the Council in 2017.
He chairs the Planning & Community Development Committee and serves on the Public Works & Natural Resources Committee and the Parks & Recreation Committee.
He represents the City of Bellingham on the governing boards of Whatcom Transportation Authority (public transit), the Whatcom Council of Governments (regional transportation planning), Sustainable Connections, and the Downtown Bellingham Partnership.
He also serves on the Regional Fire Authority Planning Committee and the County’s Homeless Strategies Work Group.
Lilliquist represents the city’s sixth ward.
Morales, of Mount Vernon, describes himself on LinkedIn as an “experienced President skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Customer Retention, Volunteer Management, Public Speaking, and Multi-cultural team building. Strong business development professional with a Master of Arts — MA focused in American/United States Studies/Civilization from Heidelberg University.”
The Whatcom County Council, Skagit County Commission, and San Juan County Commission are scheduled to meet on January 6th to deliberate on a possible joint appointment. If they cannot agree to appoint Ramel, Lilliquist, or Morales on within sixty days, the responsibility for making an appointment will pass to Governor Jay Inslee in accordance with the Washington State Constitution.