Presidential candidates are expected to visit Spokane in October to take part in a nationally televised debate on environmental issues.
The debate, scheduled for Oct. 22 in the Ag Trade Center, is part of City Vote, a national straw poll that will be the first ballot-box test for White House “wannabes.”
Candidates’ names will appear on Nov. 7 municipal ballots in participating cities.
“We fully expect the candidates to jump into it,” said Larry Agran, executive director of the City Vote organization and himself an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1992.
The debates will give candidates a chance to be heard nationally on key urban issues and to organize supporters in key cities.
Invitations to the first debate, to be held in Minneapolis-St. Paul, went out last week. Agran said the group hasn’t had any rejections, or acceptances, yet.
Asked whether he thinks President Clinton would join the debates, Agran suggested the president has no reason not to. He might even “find it a plus after last November’s election losses.”
“It might give him a chance to re-energize a base of support somewhere. If not in the cities, then where?” Agran said.
The Spokane debate will be the third of four forums City Vote will co-sponsor on successive Sundays in October. The Spokane forum will center on environmental protection issues.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul debate will center on children and families. The second debate, tentatively scheduled for Boston, will cover the democratic process; the final debate, possibly in Pasadena, Calif., will cover public safety and education issues.
Spokane was the first city to sign up for the experimental plebiscite, which sponsors hope will force candidates to address urban issues.
The names of all announced candidates who have raised enough money to qualify for federal funding and who have organized campaigns will appear on the Nov. 7 ballots in all cities that choose to participate. So far, 11 have committed to participate, and up to 18 are expected to sign on before November, Agran said.
Each city will be free to add other candidates if it chooses, Agran said.