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WA State Debate Coalition

Questions about hosting a debate or joining the Coalition:
Contact Allie Lindsay Johnson

Media inquiries:
Contact Charles McCray III


Why form a Coalition?
Voters want to make smart, informed choices about the candidates vying for their support. But too often, the bulk of information available to voters about candidates for our most important federal and state offices comes through highly partisan sources or advertising by the candidates and third parties. Public debate between candidates presents one of the few opportunities for voters to hear directly from candidates about why they should be elected. These debates also provide an opportunity for others to ask questions of the candidates and for the candidates to challenge each other. The Debate Coalition was created in response to the often inconsistent, overly partisan quality of political discourse. In the past, opportunities for the public to hear directly from candidates has been infrequent, and when it did happen, the formats often allowed for little or no direct interaction with voters. We believe Washingtonians deserve better. The enthusiastic public response to the Coalition proves that voters are demanding better.

Who can join?
The Coalition includes former public officials, nonpartisan organizations, colleges and universities and media partners. Although they come from all areas of the state (urban and rural Washington; eastern, western and central Washington), all Coalition members believe the need has never been greater for civic engagement that brings Washingtonians together. They see it as their responsibility to help inform public policy decisions and to create a transparent and civil process for the election of the leaders of our state.

What races will be featured in 2016?
The Coalition will host debates for U.S. Senate and Washington State Governor.

How many debates will there be in 2016? Where? When?
The Coalition will host two free public debates per race (U.S. Senator and Washington State Governor) to provide voters with significant opportunities to access the debates and inform their ballot choices on the following dates and locations:

Mon, Sept 26 – Seattle University, 8 p.m. PT (Gubernatorial)
Sun, Oct 16 – Gonzaga University, 7 p.m. PT (U.S. Senate)
Wed, Oct 19 – Columbia Basin College, 8 p.m. PT (Gubernatorial)
Sun, Oct 23 – Microsoft, 7 p.m. PT (U.S. Senate)

Is there anything like this Coalition elsewhere?
The Washington State Debate Coalition was inspired by the work of the Commission on Presidential Debates and Indiana Debate Commission, but it is unique in its breadth of membership and working partnerships between civic and media organizations. The Coalition strives to create a solution that is uniquely tailored to Washington State voters and in line with Washington State’s values.

Seattle CityClub provides a space to talk about the issues that impact our lives; dialogue that is passionately nonpartisan, connections to leaders and government, and the tools and inspiration to make a difference. We know that a healthy democracy and a strong community depend on active, informed and interested citizens. r mission is to inform, connect and engage the public to strengthen the civic health of our region.

“I enthusiastically endorse the creation of the Washington State Debate Coalition. The decisions of Washington’s voters profoundly affect the quality of our communities. It’s imperative that we hear directly from those who seek to serve in the highest elective offices in Washington State.”
– Christine Gregoire