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.

In 2018 alone, the Coalition served over 900 attendees in eastern, western, and central Washington and 500,000 viewers online, and gave a voice to more than 500 people who submitted questions to their candidates.

Watch 2018 Coalition Debates

Spokane Debate Hosts

Eastern Washington University
Gonzaga University
University of Washington
Washington State University Spokane
Whitworth University

Tacoma Debate Hosts

Bethel School District
Eatonville School District
Franklin Pierce School District
Tacoma Public Schools

Ellensburg Debate Hosts

Associated Students of Central Washington University
Cle Elum-Roslyn School District
Daily Record
Easton School District
Ellensburg School District
Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce
Kittitas School District
Thorp School District

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I watch the debates?

Our premier media members (KCTS 9, KING 5, KIRO 7, KOMO NEWS 4, KUOW, Q13 NEWS, and TVW) are required to at least livestream each debate, and depending on the locale, premier members will broadcast live on television. We will provide more broadcast and livestream details once the debates are closer to production.

  • U.S. Senate debate at PLU: Broadcast live at 12:30 p.m. PST on KING 5 and KIRO 7. Delayed broadcast at 7 p.m. PST on KCTS, TVW, and KONG. Livestreamed on many Coalition partner websites. Live radio broadcast on KUOW.
  • WA-8th debate at CWU: Broadcast live at 7 p.m. PST on KING 5, KVI Radio, KUOW, NCWLIFE Channel, KPQ AM560, and AM 770 KTTH. Delayed broadcast on KOMO Radio, KCTS 9, TVW. Livestreamed on many Coalition partner websites including KIRO 7 and Q13 News.
  • U.S. Senate debate at Spokane Community College: Broadcast live at 3 p.m. PST on KSKN and KONG TV. Delayed broadcast on  KING 5, KCTS 9, KOMO and TVW. Livestreamed on many Coalition partner websites including KIRO 7 and KPQ.
How do I submit questions for the debates?

In order to make sure we have diverse questions that cover multiple topics, we are asking residents to submit their questions in advance for selection. Submitted questions will be reviewed, selected and edited for brevity. Submit a question.

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.

Questions About Hosting a Debate or Joining the Coalition:

Contact Alex Wheeler, Director of Civic Engagement, at or 206.682.7395

Media Inquiries:

Contact Jason Ludwig, Communications Manager, at or 206.682.7395

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

2018 Washington State Debate Coalition Sponsors

Lead Sponsors

Supporting Sponsor

The Boeing Company  |  Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund  |  Washington REALTORS