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Independent candidate invited to first debate

All three major political party candidates have been invited to the first of three major gubernatorial debates before the Nov. 6 general election.

Children First for Oregon, along with television station KOIN and Pamplin Media Group, will host the first major debate of the election season Oct. 2 with an atypical format: Children will pose all of the questions to the three candidates.

Incumbent Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, will face off with GOP nominee Rep. Knute Buehler, a Bend orthopedic surgeon, and Independent Party of Oregon nominee Patrick Starnes, a cabinet maker from Brownsville.

The “Debate for Oregon’s Future” marks the first time Oregon children and youth will ask all of the questions in a gubernatorial debate, according to Children First for Oregon, an nonprofit child advocacy organization.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to highlight the voices and questions and issues impacting children’s lives through this debate,” said Tonia Hunt, executive director of Children First for Oregon. “This is a great opportunity to hear directly from young people in Oregon about what is happening to them and what issues matter to them on a day-to-day basis but also how that affects their future.”

Children First for Oregon is accepting applications on its website from children and youth who would like to participate. Applicants can apply online at as well as submit a question and learn how to submit a 30-second application video.

The event “will be a lot more interesting and informative for voters than traditional debates, partly because it will be tougher for the candidates to blow off questions from young people or switch to prepared talking points,” said John Schrag, executive editor at Pamplin Media Group.

“We want young people from every part of the state to participate in the Debate for Oregon’s Future so the issues that may be unique to eastern, central, southern and coastal Oregon are also raised with the candidates,” Tonia Hunt, executive director, Children First for Oregon, said. “It’s easy to submit a question online and we encourage everyone to participate.”

KOIN 6 anchor Jeff Gianola and Portland Tribune education reporter Shasta Kearns Moore will facilitate the questions and give participants advance tips on how to make sure the candidates answer their questions, Hunt said. The debate is scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m. in the Portland area at a venue to be determined. The debate will be broadcast live by KOIN.

The Independent Party has threatened legal action if debate hosts fail to include their nominee in debates.


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