About Ryan

Ryan grew up in Anacortes, with family roots in the mills and canneries, at the state ferries and the school district, and in their own small businesses.

After graduating from Anacortes High School, Ryan went off to the University of Rochester in upstate New York to earn an undergraduate degree in Political Science and French and a certificate in International Relations. He studied abroad in Peru and France and did a semester internship in Congressman Jim McDermott's office in Washington, D.C. Ryan earned his law degree from the University of California, Davis, School of Law with summer studies at the London School of Economics and an internship in Senator Maria Cantwell's Seattle office.

And after that, Ryan returned to Anacortes and chose to make it his home.

Growing up in Anacortes

In his teens, Ryan worked at Horizon Audio & Video, a small business his father Randy and uncle Brad started in 1984 that is still going strong today. He also worked at Marine Supply and Hardware, helping get the oldest marine hardware store west on the west coast into the world of electronic bookkeeping and setting them up with their first website. As part of an Anacortes Sister Cities exchange, Ryan traveled to Kisakata, Japan. At Anacortes High School, Ryan was elected student body president, was selected as one of the top ten outstanding seniors, and led fundraising for the French Travel Club trip to Paris and Montpellier.

Professional Experience

Ryan returned to Anacortes in 2006 and started work as a deputy prosecuting attorney for Skagit County. As a deputy prosecuting attorney, Ryan advised the Planning Department, Planning Commission, and the Board of County Commissioners, represented the state in mental health civil commitment hearings, resolved the County's last two compliance cases before the Growth Management Hearings Board, and negotiated a landmark compromise agreement between Skagit County, the Skagit Housing Authority, and the City of Burlington that resolved a decade-old dispute regarding affordable housing at Raspberry Ridge.

When the County received a federal recovery grant in 2008, Ryan was drafted to simultaneously run the County's new sustainability office, where he worked with a County-appointed taskforce to draft the County's Climate Action Plan, renovated several County buildings for energy efficiency, and launched the County's Zero-Waste Events program. In 2016, Ryan was appointed assistant director of the Skagit County Planning Department, where he managed the 30-person department, completed the County's 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update on time and under budget, and worked on streamlining the arduous permit process.

Since 2018, Ryan has been the Director of Planning and Community Development for the Samish Indian Nation. At Samish, Walters has managed multi-million-dollar capital projects and real estate transactions, while juggling work on long-term strategic planning and an overhaul of the tribal code. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

City Council

After returning home, Ryan bought a house in Old Town in 2009 and was motivated to run for City Council in 2011 by an outcry about large incompatible commercial uses in our residential neighborhoods, including his own. Now the most senior member of the City Council, Ryan has a long record of accomplishment on city legislation. He has championed land use reform, open government, and the City's new fiber internet service, and served:

At Home

Ryan enjoys hiking, biking, backpacking, photography, and travel. He most recently returned from long-distance treks in Patagonia and Jordan and a roadtrip around Utah's national parks. Ryan and his wife Allison live in Old Town, across the street from where Allison's great grandparents lived in the 1940s. Allison's family lives on Whidbey.

Ryan has volunteered with Skagit Land Trust for nearly 20 years, building and maintaining their interactive website and earning their volunteer of the year award. Over many years, both from afar and after his return, Ryan volunteered on several campaigns for Anacortes school bonds and levies. He also serves on the General Advisory Council for the Northwest Career & Technical Academy.

In 2019, Ryan worked with Anacortes Public Works and the AHS Green Club to dig out the ditch in front to his house on 10th Street and install a rain garden, one of three in town (with hopefully more to come) that the Green Club has helped facilitate.

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copyright © 2021 Ryan Walters