On Monday night, Oct. 16, 2023, the League of Women Voters Seattle & King County sponsored a Candidate Forum at Wesley Homes for those running for Des Moines City Council in 2023.

With opening remarks by the League’s 1st Vice President Lauren Freedman, and moderated by Cathy Jorgensen, the forum was organized by Meg Van Wyk, Sarah Phillips, Toni Okada, and Aviva Palencia.

Held at Wesley Homes, the event lasted nearly 90 minutes, and included all five candidates running in the Nov. 7 General election:

* denotes incumbent

Candidates made opening statements, then answered questions from organizers. A Q&A was held at the end, where audience members could ask questions directly to the candidates.

Some highlights of the event:

  • Incumbent JC Harris and former councilmember Rob Back had the most back-and-forth interaction, including a moment where Harris explained why he “No” twice to the city paying for a skywalk at the tax-exempt Wesley Homes, then Back’s rebuttal that he supported it. Back’s response garnered the only spontaneous moment of applause from the Wesley Homes crowd – view that segment here.
  • Harris also said that the city should develop its own Smartphone App as a way to communicate with residents.
  • During the Q&A session from the audience, topics like a proposed hotel near the Marina, Sea-Tac Airport and its effects on Des Moines, public safety/crime and police staffing, homelessness, the lack of a local grocery store in the Marina District and more.
  • When asked about local news sources, The Waterland Blog was mentioned as a leading source by almost all candidates.


Below is the full, raw video as shot by the League of Women Voters Seattle & King County:

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