Following Rep. Jeff Morris’ November 2019 resignation from his position in Washington’s 40th District, Alex Ramel of Bellingham will take over the vacant seat.
“A big congratulations to Alex Ramel on his newly appointed role as my seatmate in Washington’s State House of Representatives for the 40th Legislative District,” Rep. Debra Lekanoff — who defeated Ramel for her current seat in the August 2018 election — wrote in a press release. “Alex is an environmental organizer from Bellingham and brings with him a breadth experience in addressing both the need for affordable housing and climate change in the 40th [Legislative District].”
Ramel was chosen during a joint meeting of the San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom county councils and commissioners on Monday, Jan. 6. A resident of Bellingham, Ramel first ran to represent Washington’s 40th District during the November 2018 election. He was one of three candidates proposed to the joint committee, the other two being Bellingham City Counselor Michael Lilliquist and Marco Morales, who is listed as a migrant graduation specialist for Mount Vernon Schools.
Ramel has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental policy and planning from Western Washington University and has served as field director for Stand.earth’s extreme oil campaign since February 2015. Stand.earth is a San Francisco-based environmental organization. Prior to working for Stand.earth, Ramel also worked for Bellingham nonprofit Sustainable Connections, a public policy organization called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives and the City of Bellingham.
“I’ll be a champion for our progressive values,” Ramel wrote in his statement while running for office in 2018. “As a single dad, I know our kids deserve a bright future with homes we can afford, a safe climate, healthcare for all, fully funded schools, equal pay for women and gun violence prevention.”
Morris was the second legislator in the 40th District to resign in 2019. Former State Senator Kevin Ranker had stepped down from his position in January 2019 to focus on family matters amid a sexual harassment investigation.
“The greatest professional honor I have had is serving the community I grew up in [in] the State Legislature,” Morris wrote in a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee announcing his resignation. “After twenty-three years of service, I have made the decision to step down from my House of Representatives seat effective January 6th, 2020.”
Morris ran for office in 1996, securing his seat for more than 20 years. He announced in November 2019 that he had accepted a position as director of state government relations with Schneider Electric — a French corporation specializing in electrical equipment.
“I have only been allowed to work on these issues because of the people of the 40th District. They raised, educated, supported, and elected me to represent them in Olympia,” Morris said in his letter to Inslee. “My new position — while covering all of North America — allows me to still live in the place I have always called home. I will continue to work to serve the community that has given so much to a local boy of mixed race and very modest means.”