PRO/CON Debate Series Returns to Santa Monica Pier – Mondays in August

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PRO/CON at The Pier, part of the Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA, is back for its third year. Organized by and the Santa Monica Pier Corporation, these free public events take place Mondays in August at the historic Santa Monica Pier. The nonpartisan series features experts from both sides of hot issues, along with a neutral moderator, debating and reinvigorating the art of critical thinking as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean.

Each week kicks off at 5:30 pm with a Civic Engagement Fair with interactive activities and music. Activity stations include:

  • Voting on the topic (hosted by
  • Voter registration (hosted by League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and California Secretary of State)
  • Soapbox speeches (hosted by Action Civics LA)
  • Writing your elected officials (hosted by The Constituents LA)
  • A pop-up library (hosted by the Santa Monica Public Library)
  • Live DJ spinning tracks around each week’s theme

The debate goes from 6:30-7:30 pm. A visual stenographer creates art as the debate unfolds. After each debate, a ticketed VIP reception at the adjacent Mariasol restaurant takes places where speakers and sponsors forget their differences and celebrate what they have in common, over margaritas.

Anyone interested can RSVP on Facebook or just show up. For those who cannot attend in person, plans to livestream via Facebook Live and post the debates on its YouTube channel.

Weekly Topics and Speakers:

MARIJUANA: Legalization in California… Is It Working?
PRO: Josh Drayton, Deputy Director, California Cannabis Industry Association
CON: Will Jones, Communications and Outreach Associate, Smart Approches to Marijuana (SAM)
Moderator: Megan Gailey, Stand-up comedian, writer and host of Crooked Media’s Hysteria
VIP Reception Tickets

RENT CONTROL: More of It? Or Less?
PRO: René Christian Moya, Spokesperson, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
CON: Steven Greenhut, Senior Fellow and Western Region Director of R Street Institute
Moderator: Mike Gatto, JD, Former California State Assemblyman
VIP Reception Tickets

WATER: Desalinate Ocean Water for LA?
Special partner for this event is UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
PRO: Eric M.V. Hoek, PhD, Editor-in-Chief at npj Clean Water journal, Professor at UCLA Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and CEO of Water Planet
CON: Tracy Quinn, MEng, Director, California Water Conservation & Efficiency, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Moderator: Toby Muresianu, Comedian, Host of Up Close and Political at the Hollywood Improv
VIP Reception Tickets

PRO: Chris Newman, JD, Legal Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
CON: Andrew Arthur, JD, Former Immigration Judge; Former Acting Chief of the INS National Security Law Division
Moderator: Dawn Nakagawa, MBA, Executive Vice President, The Berggruen Institute
VIP Reception Tickets

You will find photos and videos for each debate after it happens on our PRO/CON at The Pier 2018 page.