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
University of Washington
Washington State University Spokane
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
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 email@example.com or 206.682.7395
Contact Jason Ludwig, Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.682.7395
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
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