High School Essay Contest Deadline Extended

The Washington Coalition for Open Government is extending the deadline to accept entries for our annual Scott Johnson High School Essay Contest.

The contest is open to all 9-12 graders in Washington state and the winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize sponsored by the Stokes Lawrence Law Firm.

The topic for this year’s essay contest is:

What would America be like with no laws requiring government to hold open public meetings, provide open public records, and operate open courts? Would you want to live in such a country? Why or why not?

The original deadline of April 15 will now be extended to May 30. We are asking parents, educators, counselors, and our friends in the press to spread the word about this contest and encourage students to contemplate what the country would be like without open government. In these days of school closings, we are confident students, parents, and educators will find this a worthy activity as students search for meaningful learning opportunities at home.

All interested students should check the Essay Contest Information Page for more on the 2020 topic and all the rules governing entries. For districts with students with limited access to the Internet, please contact info@washingtoncog.org for information that can be printed and distributed to students.

Meet our new executive director and learn about WCOG’s priorities for 2020. 

Click below to see the 2019 Winners of WCOG’s Madison-Andersen-Bunting Awards:

Judge William Downing
Former King County Superior Court Judge & Former
Chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee

For his long-term commitment to the cause of open government. Downing served as chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee for more than 16 years, mediating numerous disputes that balanced interests involving access to public records.

Elly Walker
former executive director, Washington Coalition for Open Government

Recognized for her care of the Coalition above and beyond its role as her client by receiving the James Andersen Award, given for advancing the efforts of WCOG. Anderson, a former chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, was a founding board member of the Coalition.

Eli Sanders
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, The Stranger

For his investigation into online campaign ads in light of Washington state’s regulations and disclosure laws. One result of his reporting of dozens of stories in The Stranger was lawsuits against Facebook and Google by the state Attorney General, and a $425,000 settlement for the companies’ failure to follow Washington access laws – and their decision to stop selling political ads in the state because of its tough disclosure rules.


Transparency and public participation are building blocks of good government.

The Coalition was formed to act as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated promoting and defending the People’s right to know in matters of public interest and in the conduct of the public’s business. The Coalition’s driving vision is to help foster open government processes, supervised by an informed and engaged citizenry, which is the cornerstone of democracy.

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