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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Rob Curley: Hearing the candidates one more time before you vote, only this time with a little more discussion and a little less debate

UPDATED: Sun., Oct. 13, 2019

Spokesman-Review editor Rob Curley welcomes the crowd to the first Pints and Politics event Oct. 15, 2017, at the Washington Cracker building. The event featured a series of debates between city council and other candidates. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokesman-Review editor Rob Curley welcomes the crowd to the first Pints and Politics event Oct. 15, 2017, at the Washington Cracker building. The event featured a series of debates between city council and other candidates. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

There have been so many dang debates in Spokane this election season that it’s hard to tell whose heads are swimming the most: the candidates’, the voters’ or the journalists’.

I can’t remember if it was Steven Tyler or Ayn Rand who said that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, but judging from my phone’s musical library, a solid guess is Aerosmith. Of course, Shakespeare noted it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Or maybe that was Bon Jovi.

You know, it probably doesn’t really matter who said it.

What matters is that there have been a ton of election debates across Spokane this fall. It’s hard to argue that’s anything but a good thing. Knowledge is power and knowing where candidates stand has always been important … it just feels even more important at this exact moment.

Over the past several weeks, local candidates have been asked a whole lot of questions by a whole lot of different groups. And they’ve been super specific. There have been topical debates focused on everything from homelessness to climate change to business growth.

But with ballots dropping this week, you likely still have questions. You can’t really trust any candidate until you know what they order when they’re at a fast-food restaurant. Or maybe that’s just me.

Regardless, we’ll all have a chance Tuesday to catch up with the candidates for Spokane mayor and City Council president before we begin to fill out our ballots. The Spokesman-Review and KHQ will host a special edition of our popular Northwest Passages “Pints and Politics” community forum series that evening at The Bing.

Tickets are free, but required, and are available at All seats are general admission and doors open at 4p.m.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. with a discussion between council president candidates Breean Beggs and Cindy Wendle. Mayoral candidates Ben Stuckart and Nadine Woodward will follow at 6 p.m. Spokesman-Review reporter Adam Shanks and KHQ’s Sean Owsley will co-host the event, with the mayoral candidates being aired live on KHQ from 6 to 6:30 p.m. The discussion between Woodward and Stuckart will continue at The Bing past the end of the live television broadcast at 6:30.

The City Council president exchange, as well as the entire mayoral discussion, will be streamed online and available on both KHQ’s and The Spokesman-Review’s Facebook pages.

The goal is for this to be much more of a discussion than a debate. Over the past several years, our nation has shown incredible skill at being able to yell at each other, when what we need a whole lot more of is discussion. So if you’re coming angry, do us all a favor on Tuesday and stay at home and just watch it on TV or on the interwebs.

That doesn’t mean you can’t disagree. Disagreement, passion and logic are all key ingredients of a healthy political discourse. Tater tots are a nice bonus, which is what I’d order, if anyone asks.

What this really means is there’s another way to disagree than the way our national political parties do, which seems like a healthy dose of meanness seasoned with a dash of the impersonal to help make their polarizing points hurt even more.

If it’s true that all politics are local, then let’s show the folks over in that other Washington how we do it on this side of the country.

The change has to start somewhere. Why not here?

That’s been the goal of nearly every Northwest Passages event we’ve hosted over the past couple of years: How do we learn how to talk again as a community and stop all of the yelling? There’s a reason why our events sell out now — because the discussions are healthy, not destructive.

And they’re fun.

Plus, we serve alcohol.

People who run for office, especially a local position, almost always do it because they love their community and want to try to help it be better tomorrow than it is today. They may have no clue how to actually accomplish that, but they’re typically running for the right reasons.

That’s why regardless of whether they are elected or not, if they’re coming from a positive place, it’s such an honorable thing to run for a local office.

This is why you should join us at The Bing. The stage is going to be filled with people who genuinely care about our hometown, some with studio-quality hair and others with hair a little more like mine.

We need to hear them out on multiple issues. We need to ask them questions. And they need to answer.

It just doesn’t have to be incensed, indignant and inflamed.

Marcus Aurelius — the last of Rome’s “five good emperors” — said that peace, stability and growth come from knowing that “you need to calm down.”

Wait, that might also be Taylor Swift. But they’re both right.

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