The Urbanist Elections Committee invited candidates in the Seattle metropolitan region to fill out our questionnaire and participate in our endorsement process. We based our endorsement decisions on the responses and follow-up interviews.

Below is the response from Alex Ramel, who is running for State House District 40, Position 2.

What lessons about government revenues and fiscal priorities from the wake of 2008 would you apply in responding to the Covid-19 crisis? (200 words or less)

We can’t focus predominantly on cuts to the existing budget, we need to bring in new, progressive revenue. Eliminating the social safety net for the most vulnerable people in Washington is cruel, and it will prolong the recession.

Would you vote for a bill that ends the ban on rent control in Washington? Yes

Why or Why not? (50 words or less)

I support allowing local governments to put a cap on the increases in rent, which is currently prohibited.

What role do you see the state playing in enacting land use reform, and what should that reform prioritize? (200 words or less)

GMA timeline should be adjusted, for more frequent (5-year) updates. Carbon should be a planning goal. Multi-family housing, transit oriented development, and greater density should be prioritized over greenfield housing development. We also need to think through how increased access to work-from home options (post-COVID) will impact land use.

What should be the major components of a climate package? (50 words or less)

Price on carbon. Low carbon fuel standard. Phase out of new ICE vehicles. Investment in energy efficiency, electrification, district energy utilities and renewable energy. Prohibit new natural gas expansion.

What should be the top strategies for the state to fix the cycle of segregation, disinvestment, gentrification, and unaffordable housing in our cities? (200 words or less)

We need more social housing. That means public investment in the Housing Trust Fund, revenue for local governments for matching housing money, and programs like inclusionary zoning. We should be encouraging development with both social and some market rate housing. We should be setting goals to have double digit percentages of all housing kept permanently affordable in all of our communities.

What’s your roadmap to fixing educational inequities in Washington state? How can Washington state comply with its constitutional duties regarding education? (200 words or less)

We need to invest in support services like nurses, councilors and paraeducators. I’m also focused on the way that the levy swap has had unintended consequences restricting revenue for some small, rural (especially island) districts.

Do you think Washington state should have an income tax? Yes

If yes, what is the legislative path? If not, would you pursue any tax reform? (100 words or less)

Income tax is only unconstitutional if the current Supreme Court upholds a 5-4 decision from the 1930’s that decided differently when the same question was asked in several other states. I would also support inheritance tax and capital gains.

While California and Oregon have passed a clean fuels standard aiming to meet their climate goals, Washington did not, as the bill stalled out last session. Would you vote for it? If not, what is the route to meeting our climate goals? (150 words or less)

Yes. My first speech on the House floor was in favor of a low carbon fuel standard.

What percentage of the state’s transportation budget should be for alternatives to cars, such as transit, biking, and pedestrian infrastructure? (100 words)

We should be investing significantly more in alternative transportation. The restrictions on the use of gas tax money for highways is the reason that I support shifting away from the gas tax toward a road usage fee that will allow us to invest in alternatives that reduce the needs for roads.

What should be a higher priority: electrifying personal vehicles or reducing the number of trips made in personal vehicles? Explain how to achieve your priority. (50 words).

We need both. Single occupancy vehicles have a high cost for society, so we should be bringing alternatives to scale. But there will be some personal vehicles for a long time and we need to decarbonize them. LCFS and road usage charges are part of how we pay for them.

The Urbanist Elections Committee’s Take: No Endorsement

Read our full endorsement here


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Owen does servicing and consulting for a software company to pay the bills. He has an amateur interest in urban policy, focusing on housing. His primary mode is a bicycle but isn't ashamed of riding down the hill and taking the bus back up. Feel free to tweet at him: @pickovven.