Edmonds-Woodway High School history teacher Martin Louie had a simple idea for giving his students a real-world lesson in politics: invite a couple of candidates running for the state Legislature to meet with his class of seniors studying government, economics and current events.
The idea snowballed into a full-blown forum involving all state 21st and 32nd District candidates, plus the 1st Congressional District, that was held Thursday afternoon in the high school theater, with the entire E-W class of 2011 — those closest to voting age — invited to attend.
“I ‘m just tickled with how it turned out,” Louie said. “A number of my students will be voting in a week and a half, and I wanted them to be able to make a decision based on what the candidates said.”
After initially planning a small event, Louie said he thought about it more, and decided to invite to all candidates and then the entire senior class, “because everyone would want to hear what they had to say.” The veteran teacher, in his fourth year at Edmonds-Woodway, went a step further and also extended an invitation to candidates for the 1st Congressional District and U.S. Senate.
To his surprise, all the candidates he invited — from the 21st and 32nd legislative districts that represent Edmonds as well as incumbent Congressman Jay Inslee and his challenger James Watkins — showed up in person. And even though U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and her challenger, Dino Rossi, couldn’t attend, they sent representatives to speak in their place.
“I think the kids appreciated hearing from the candidates, and a number of them stayed after to ask questions,” Louie said. “This will probably start a tradition for us.”