NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY)--Let the election season begin. Candidates for the 7th District Congressional Seat took part in the first of three debates at Cape Fear Community College.
Incumbent Mike McIntyre and challenger Ilario Pantano debated the stimulus, term limits, and several other issues facing voters in southeastern North Carolina. It's fair to say the two have a difference of opinion on most of the issues that voters will have in mind when they head to the polls in November.
Government spending, it's one of the most polarizing issues among voters in southeastern North Carolina.
Incumbent Mike McIntyre and challenger Ilario Pantano are on opposite sides of the issue.
“Until leaders are ready to take some decisive action and stop bringing home checks of your money to buy off constituency votes, we're not going to solve the problem,” said Pantano. “We're going to create more of them.”
“My opponent signed a pledge saying no special appropriations,” said Rep. McIntyre. “Well if you don't have any special appropriations for Carolina and Kure beach you're not going to get the money. For the Topsail inlet, you're not going to get the money. You've got to fight for it.”
Nowhere has the government spent more money over the last year than in support of the stimulus bill. McIntyre, a Blue Dog Democrat supported the bill and says it's helping.
“In many parts of the country there has been a controversy about whether the stimulus worked,” said Rep. McIntyre. “In this part of the country it has worked.”
Pantano, the Republican, disagrees.
“If you mean by increasing the unemployment rate, I guess it worked,” said Pantano.
But when it comes to the proposed International Port the two candidates see eye to eye.
“I think there are environmental reasons to be concerned, I think there are strategic and security reasons to be concerned,” said Pantano. “I've never been keen on a port between a nuclear reactor and the world’s largest arms depot.”
“As the vice-chairman of the subcommittee on terrorism I clearly was concerned about locating an international port that obviously would attract international activity between a nuclear power plant and Sunny Point,” said McIntyre.
Both candidates also support funding public education and increasing defense on our national borders to prevent illegal immigration.
With the election still almost three months away, Pantano says he would like to challenge McIntyre to another debate in October. That way voters will have a fresh reminder of each candidates’ stance on the major issues before they head to the polls.