Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Washington State Debate Coalition?

The Washington State Debate Coalition (WSDC) is a coalition of public-minded individuals and community leaders, vital community organizations and institutions, and media outlets who believe voters deserve to hear from candidates for public office before they mark their ballots. The Coalition works collaboratively in advance of every election season to provide a public forum for incumbents and challengers to exchange ideas and encourage civic engagement of constituents.

When was the WSDC founded?

The Coalition was founded by Seattle CityClub in 2016. Since then, the WSDC has held seven public debates – four in 2016 and three in 2018 – in front of more than 2,300 audience members and about 1.5 million television and online viewers.

Why are public debates necessary?

The Coalition maintains that debate between candidates seeking the same public office is the best mechanism by which voters can hear from candidates before making their own voices heard at the ballot box. Public debates have a long and proud history in our nation, and the WSDC believes debates remain vital to a functioning democracy.

Do organizations like the WSDC exist elsewhere?

Yes, the most high-profile of which is The Commission on Presidential Debates. Additionally, the WSDC is proud to acknowledge that it has worked collaboratively with like-minded organizations in other states, including the Ohio Debate Commission and the Indiana Debate Commission. The Coalition is joined by these partners on the State Debate Coalition.

Should 2020 public debates be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

No. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic reaffirms the need for candidates for public office to publicly share their opinions and ideas for government and society. Few periods in recent American history have demanded so much those living in the U.S., and it is imperative that we require the same of our public officials and those who challenge them.

How were candidates selected to participate in debates?

Candidates who advanced out of their race’s Primary Election were invited to participate WSDC debates.

How is the WSDC governed?

The WSDC is a program of Seattle CityClub (SCC) and is led by a steering committee comprised primarily of volunteers from the community, as well as some SCC staff and Board members. The committee provides the strategic guidance and day to day support needed to produce in-person and virtual debates and ensures debates are accessible to people throughout Washington State. Committee members rotate every few years.

How is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) incorporated into the planning of the debates?

SCC and WSDC consider diversity, equity and inclusion in planning all programs and civic engagement. From media partners, education institutions, and organizations involved WSDC encourages all communities to be involved in the debates and engaged in their democracy across the state.

Questions about hosting the WSDC:


Historical List of Media and Community Partners

Supporting Media Partners


710 ESPN Seattle Kirkland Reporter Redmond Reporter
Arlington Times/Marysville Globe Kitsap Military Times Renton Reporter
Auburn Reporter Kitsap Weekly Seattle Channel

Seattle Weekly


Bainbridge Island Review KNKX Sequim Weekly
Bellevue Reporter KXLY TV Sequim Gazette
Bothell/Kenmore Reporter KPQ 560 AM Snoqualmie Valley Record
Bremerton Patriot/Central Kitsap Reporter KREM South Beach Bulletin
Converge Media KSPS-TV South Seattle Emerald
Covington/Maple Valley/Black Diamond Reporter KTTH South Whidbey Record
Eastside Scene Magazine La Raza 102.3/107.1 Tacoma Daily Index
Federal Way Mirror Mercer Island Reporter Tacoma News Tribune
Forks Forum NCWLIFE TV, Wenatchee The Olympian
Homes – Land Islander Newsradio 610 KONA The Peninsula Gateway
Homes – Land Olympic Peninsula North Coast News Tri-City Herald
Islands’ Sounder North Kitsap Herald Tukwila Reporter
Islands’ Weekly Northwest Asian Weekly Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber
Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter Northwest Publishing Inc. Wenatchee World
Journal of the San Juan Islands Northwest Progressive Institute Whidbey Crosswind
KAPP-KVEW Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune Whidbey News-Times
Kent Reporter Peninsula Daily News Whidbey TMC
KHQ Port Orchard Independent  
Kingston Community News Rainier Avenue Radio  


Education Partners


American Forensic Association
Olympic College
Bellevue College
Big Bend Community College
Pacific Lutheran University
Seattle Colleges
  Seattle University
College Success Foundation
Central Washington University
South Puget Sound Community College
Eastern Washington University Spokane Falls Community College
Gonzaga University The Evergreen State College
Independent Colleges of Washington University of Washington
Lower Columbia College Washington State University
Northwest University Washington State University Foundation
  Western Washington University
  Whitworth University


Civic & Community Partners


African Community Housing & Development Leadership Tomorrow
Association of WA Business in Olympic Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle
Bellingham City Club
CAIR Washington Seattle Chamber of Commerce
Center for Women & Democracy Seattle Foundation
City Club of Tacoma Seattle/King County NAACP
Columbia Basin Badger Club Seattle Latino Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Democracy Voucher Program Slade Gorton International Policy Center
Downtown Seattle Association TACID
Global to Local UW Impact
Henry M. Jackson Foundation Washington Coalition for Open Government
  Washington Legislative Youth Advisory Council
  Washington Nonprofits


Advisory Partners

Former Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant

Former Seattle Mayor Tim Burgess

Former Seattle City Council Member Sally Clark

Former Washington Governor Gary Locke

Former Washington Secretary of State Ralph Monro

Former Attorney General of Washington Rob McKenna

Former Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed




For questions about hosting a debate or joining the Washington State Debate Coalition: 


For media inquiries: