With the fall election just weeks away, islanders will have a chance to hear the island’s two state senate candidates debate, learn about the initiatives on the ballot and support young journalists at the same time.
On Monday, Oct. 22, Shannon Braddock and Joe Nguyen, vying for Sharon Nelson’s senate seat, will come to the island for the event, which will be hosted by the island group Unifying for Democracy, Voice of Vashon and The Riptide, Vashon High School’s newspaper.
Unifying for Democracy organized last summer’s candidate forum in Ober Park, as well as two earlier events focused on political issues. Islander Art Chippendale is one of the primary organizers of the upcoming forum, dubbed Ballot Palooza, which will be held at Vashon High School.
“We have a need in this community to do something,” he said. “There was no one else picking up the baton, and since we had already put on the community and candidate forums, we thought we could do this.”
Chippendale began organizing a pre-election forum and learned The Riptide also was planning an event, so both groups joined forces.
The result is an evening-long lineup that will include music, food, a chance to buy raffle tickets in support of The Riptide staff going to a journalism conference this spring, speakers addressing pro and con arguments for the four initiatives on the ballot and a moderated debate between Braddock and Nguyen.
In the early part of the evening, beginning at 5:30 p.m., there will be a chance to listen to live music and buy baked goods and raffle tickets to support The Riptide students.
At 6:45 p.m., the formal portion of the evening will begin, with information about the initiatives on the ballot.
“People will get all the information and get arguments back and forth, so they can make up their own minds,” Chippendale said.
Between 8 and 9 p.m., the formal debate between Braddock and Nguyen will take place, moderated by islander Craig Beles; two Riptide students will also ask questions of the candidates. Candidate questions will come from island groups and individuals as well as audience members, who will be invited to write down their questions and submit them that evening.
Braddock and Nguyen are both progressives. Nguyen won the primary election, but Braddock came in first among Vashon voters.
“Frankly, they are both good candidates,” said co- coordinator May Gerstle. “I am really eager to hear the differences between the two.”
Voice of Vashon will record the event for later broadcast.