The Washington State Debate Coalition was founded by Seattle CityClub in 2016 to enhance Washingtonians’ access to those who hold and seek our state’s highest elected offices. The Coalition is comprised of civic leaders, nonpartisan organizations, colleges and universities and media partners committed to leading the nation in setting a higher standard for political debates.
With 1,800 debate attendees and over 1 million viewers on TV/online in its inaugural year, the Coalition created a solution that tapped into a strong public desire across the state for direct access to candidates.
Access to leaders and citizen empowerment are core to Seattle CityClub’s mission and purpose.Seattle CityClub’s Washington State Debate Coalition presents one of the few opportunities for the Washington public to hear directly from candidates about why they should be elected. -Diane Douglas
We Believe Washingtonians Deserve Better
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 the public to hear directly from candidates about why they should be elected as well as providing the opportunity for others to ask questions of the candidates and, even the opportunity for candidates to challenge each other.
What Does a High-Quality Debate Look Like?
In order to challenge prevailing trends and power dynamics that reduce political transparency, candidate accountability, and public participation, we have established the following criteria for high-quality political debates:
- Incumbents and challengers both participate
- Short answer and in-depth discussions of our most challenging issues
- Broad distribution through a variety of mediums
- Varied formats with public engagement elements
- Geographic diversity
I think a consortium is how you can put on the best quality debate.I think the (Washington State Debate Coalition) is a smart way to go and kudos to the news organizations for agreeing to do this. -Chuck Todd, Moderator of "Meet the Press," NBC Political Director and Host of MSNBC's "MTP Daily"Chuck Todd
As an institution deeply committed to empowering leaders to be active, engaged citizens, Seattle University welcomes and applauds Seattle CityClub and all those involved in the Debate Coalition.Shaping our democracy for the better and creating positive change begins when ballots are cast. Having an informed electorate depends upon having ample opportunity to hear directly from those seeking office and how they differ with one another on the issues and in terms of leadership and philosophy.Scott McClellan, Vice President for Communications, Seattle University
Washington State University is proud to leverage its long history of public education and engagement in support of the Washington State Debate Coalition.By creating opportunities for civilized, informed debate, this coalition is helping to strengthen the bonds between voters and the democratic process. The hallmark of a fair and just society is a public with a voice in its decision-making.Colleen Kerr, Vice President for External Affairs And Government Relations, Washington State University
Through this effort we can create the forums and the exchange of ideas people deserve.At the UW we know our students are hungry for expressions of passion and policy that great debate forums can make possible.”Randy Hodgins, Vice President of External Affairs, University of Washington
Central Washington University is pleased to be a part of the important work of organizing civil, informed, political debate.The need has never been greater for civic engagement that brings Washington together. As a public institution, Central Washington University has a responsibility to help inform public policy decisions and to create a transparent and civil process for the election of the leaders of our state.Dan Dixon, Trustee, Central Washington University
So much of our political and governing process occurs beyond the view of the average voter.Debates are one of the few opportunities for voters to hear directly from candidates about their vision and why they should be elected. The Washington State Debate Coalition’s commitment to ensuring that quality public debates occur regularly is a noble cause that I’m proud to endorse. -Sam ReedSam Reed
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
Questions About Hosting a Debate or Joining the Coalition:
Contact Allie Lindsay Johnson, Assistant Director at email@example.com or 206.682.7395
Contact Everett Lawson, Marketing + Web Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.682.7395