WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The candidates for NC Senate District 9, incumbent Republican Thom Goolsby and Democratic challenger Deb Butler, wasted no time trading jabs at a forum Tuesday night hosted by 91.3fm WHQR.
"The senator went to Raleigh suggesting he was the 'jobs senator' and talking about eradicating wasteful spending, but among the first things he did was rename a highway up here that cost thousands of dollars," Butler said.
Sen. Goolsby fired back at Butler.
"All you can do is complain and not even offer anything but half a page on your website, which is no solution to anything," he said. "You're just a complainer."
On the topic of education, Butler said the senator has not been an advocate for North Carolina classrooms.
"To suggest for one second that you have added jobs or you have added dollars to the education budget, Thom, that is a fiction," Butler said. "It is a lie. You have laid off thousands of educators."
Goolsby said Republican leaders have fought for strengthening education and rewarding teachers.
"Teachers are frustrated," Goolsby said. "I understand their frustration. They got their first pay raise from us for the first time in four years. The Democrats just left them out there dangling."
The contention at the table didn't stop there. The candidates addressed the General Assembly's passage of "The Regulatory Reform Act" and how they would minimize unnecessary regulations.
"Sen. Goolsby is a lawyer," Butler said. "He certainly knows that, and he knows the process for overturning regulations when they become burdensome."
But Goolsby said his business savvy tells him otherwise.
"My opponent sits here and acts like it's easy and you can just sit here and file some magical lawsuit and go into court and see all of these regulations disappear. It doesn't work like that." Goolsby said.
Another big topic for discussion was the loss of thousands of jobs when companies like Caterpillar and Continental Tire passed on the Cape Fear to develop in other states.
"We've got to have bold innovative strategies," Butler said. "We cannot stand around and wait while other states leap ahead of us."
Goolsby said the key to future success lies with tax rates.
"The answer that South Carolina has figured out, that Tennessee has figured out and that Virginia has figured out is that they have lowered their tax rates," Goolsby said.