Santa Monica Pier (File photo)

By Marina Andalon

This has been a year of extreme opinions in politics but locals who want a more nuanced and informative approach to contentious issues can take advantage of a new debate series on the Santa Monica Pier.

The series is designed and organized by, a nonprofit public charity based in Santa Monica. They provide sourced pro and con, and related research on more than 50 controversial issues, ranging from gun control and death penalty to illegal immigration. provides a platform for people to question information, evaluate opposing views, and debate them in a respectful way.

On Oct. 18 the debate series will focus on Proposition 62; is it time to repeal the death penalty?

Most death penalty cases involve the execution of murderers although capital punishment can also be applied for treason, espionage, and other crimes. Currently the United States allows the death penalty in 31 states.

From 1977 through May 2016 there were 1,436 people executed in the United States, primarily by means of lethal injection.

The debate will be between Gil Garcetti, former LA County District Attorney and father of Mayor Eric Garcetti who is opposed to the death penalty. On the other end is Michele Hanisee, current Deputy District Attorney for LA County who supports the death penalty. Senator Ben Allen, California State Senator, will moderate this event.

“The Pier is a great place for a forum for dialogue since it is open to the public and everyone is invited from all over to visit and listen in,” Jay Farrand, Executive Director at the Santa Monica Pier said. “Essentially we wanted to bring civil discourses back to the public sphere and back to its original intent. was the perfect partner to supply the best information and subject-matter experts to deliver it.”

Kamy Akhavan, CEO at suggest that attending these events people will become more informed on the issues being discussed from some of the top experts in the field.

The goal is to remind people that seeking out the best information is an exercise that can bring the community together, since many other forms serve to classify, label, and divide.

“People around the country have been struggling to make sense of complex issues like GMOs, marijuana, college affordability, and the death penalty”, said Akhavan. “They don’t trust conventional media sources to get a fair or thorough understanding of the issues. People don’t have time to spend weeks researching the issues themselves.”

The debate series is described as an energetic discussion between experts with some audience Q&A. People across the country are asking to record the debate allowing viewers everywhere to watch and learn for themselves. Some teachers have contacted the company telling them they are using the website and debate series for educational purposes. is free of charge, has been used by educators in more than 7,500 schools in all 50 states and in 87 foreign countries.

It is suggested by the Pier and to arrive early, dress warm and be prepared for beautiful sunsets and world class discussion of important subjects.

All debates go from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be two more debates that will take place, Oct. 25 covering the cost of education and Nov.1 on whether to legalize marijuana or not.