Profile: Kevin Ranker

1997 Washington state senator

A fourth-generation surfer whose great grandfather started fishing, diving and surfing in California in the 1920s, Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker grew up on the coast, splitting time between Orcas Island and Southern California.

When he entered Evergreen, he planned to study coastal ecology and public policy, then go to law school. His first academic program focused on community development. “That program caused a huge shift in my thinking,” he says. “I found that I wanted to focus on bridging the gap between economic development and conservation. I wanted to learn how to help communities thrive in ways that also promoted environmental stewardship.”

A study abroad program in his senior year cemented his commitment to community development work. He studied Indonesian culture, economics and language, and traveled to Indonesia with a plan to film a documentary. After a visit to the small island of Nusa Lembongan, he analyzed and documented the effects of the island’s nascent tourist industry.

Ranker brought his passion for the coast and ocean to his work as a policymaker. Before his 2008 election to the Senate, he served on the San Juan County Board of County Commissioners. His efforts focused on implementing successful economic development strategies, protecting agricultural lands, and developing opportunities to preserve coastal and marine environments and the goods and services they provide.

As a senator, Ranker remains committed to community issues. He advanced key climate change legislation and coastal and ocean policy with a focus on local economies. He developed and sponsored legislation setting new standards for state vehicle emissions, building efficiency and oil spills.

Ranker transformed his love for the ocean and coast into the advancement of ocean policy, conservation strategies, and coastal economic and community development. “There has to be a balance between environmental and economic concerns in all communities, but it’s vitally important in coastal communities because our lives and livelihoods are so intertwined with the ocean and its ecology,” Ranker says. “From tourism to real estate to building, our local industries rely on a healthy Puget Sound.”