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Finding Common Ground In-Person – Not Over Zoom: State Reps. Mark Klicker and Alex Ramel
When conservative Republican Mark Klicker and liberal Democrat Alex Ramel met in-person for the first time, their opinions about each other rapidly changed. What had been a frosty online exchange of policy differences over Zoom quickly turned into a constructive example of close bipartisan cooperation.
After Washington State eased COVID restrictions and resumed in-person legislative sessions last year, Representatives Ramel and Klicker worked together on a renewable energy tax bill. The legislation has just become law. Much of tax revenues from wind and solar will now go to the communities where renewable energy is produced. The bill was designed to answer some potential local objections to renewable energy projects and to make progress on combating climate change.
In this episode, both legislators tell us that online legislative sessions were a barrier to bridging differences and finding common ground. What had been missing during months of online meetings were moments of eye contact and the opportunity to establish informal, in-person contact. We hear more about their legislation, finding common ground on the environment, and their friendship across partisan divides.
Rep. Alex Ramel joined the legislature in 2020. In 2022, he was elected by his colleagues to the leadership role of Majority Whip.
Raised near Denver, Colorado, Rep. Ramel has called Bellingham home for over 20 years. He is a graduate of Western Washington University’s College of the Environment with a B.A. in Environmental Policy and Planning. Before joining the Washington State House of Representatives, he led development of the Community Energy Challenge which brings businesses, utilities, non-profits, and government together to help conserve energy, reduce costs, and create good paying jobs.
In the previous sessions, Rep. Ramel led on legislation to coordinate planning for electric vehicle charging infrastructure; enable public electric utilities to help their customers switch to clean electric appliances; create a planned, predictable and just transition away from the use of fossil fuels in buildings; and to end tax subsidies for fossil fuels. He is considered by his peers to be a knowledgeable source to guide allocation of clean energy funds in the biennial budget process – including transitioning to heat pumps, providing funds for electrifying our ferry fleet, and creating pathways to meet efficiency targets in public facility campuses.
Mark Klicker is a native of Walla Walla, Washington. His family roots go as far back as 1861 when his ancestors pioneered the Walla Walla Valley. Mark grew up on the family farm where he followed in his ancestor’s footsteps, farming the land by growing irrigated crops, orchards, dryland wheat, cattle, and timber.
Family is an important part of Mark’s life. He has been married for 35 years, has three adult children and three grandchildren. Mark thoroughly enjoys spending time with his growing family.
Mark has farmed and worked in the agriculture industry for over 35 years. As a regional field director for the Washington Farm Bureau from 1997 until 2012, he worked with many farmers and ranchers throughout Eastern and Western Washington. Following his employment with the Farm Bureau, he pursued a career in selling farm and ranch real estate and continued to operate and manage family forest property in Washington and Oregon.
Mark also raised cherries on the lower Snake River from 1991 to 2015 until he sold the farm. He became the project coordinator for Monson Fruit Company on that same farm, converting it into a large irrigated cherry, apple, and cattle operation. He now owns and operates Urban, Farm and Forest Group, a timber and forest management company.
Mark continues to work with Northwest First Realtors where he uses his expertise in agriculture by selling irrigated farms, dryland ranches, rangeland, and forest properties.
He serves as the Ranking Member of the Housing Committee, and is also on the Postsecondary Education and Workforce and Transportation committees.
In the Legislature, Mark brings his mission of working with all to find common ground to help the 16th District and the entire state prosper. Mark wants all families in Washington to thrive. He believes this can be accomplished by reducing taxes and promoting and rewarding innovation.