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nhcdebate300.jpg Submitted by Ramon Herrera on Tue, 06/08/2010 - 3:18pm.

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Republican run-off battle for a County Commission seat in New Hanover County is heating up. Today the two candidates faced off in a debate that at times got personal. The majority of support during Tuesday morning's debate went to challenger Brian Berger. Incumbent Bill Caster stood strong during the event, standing up for issues that were not too popular with many members of the audience. Like the proposed building of the Titan Cement plant in Castle Hayne. "I'm for Titan coming as long as they meet all the environmental requirements," Caster said. Some members of the audience, unaware of how the Titan incentives work, even called out Commissioner Caster claiming that the county was paying Titan with taxpayer dollars. Caster said what Titan is being offered is not a payout but a tax cut. "For six years, I believe it, is they'll pay less taxes," Caster said. "They'll still pay taxes, but it's less. When that time is over, they'll pay it all." But the audience did not let up as they questioned everything from the possible sale of Airlie Gardens, which both Caster and Berger oppose, to taxes. "Both Berger and Caster oppose the sales tax and tax increases, but neither gave me any answers to what they would cut to keep this fast-growing county going," voter Jean Nance said. Besides the heated debate between the two candidates, the battle for County Commissioner spilled over to the audience, as an argument over name calling sprung up between a member of the public and Caster's wife. In the end Caster said he felt like he stood his ground, but it was obvious that Berger had the upper-hand this time around. "It's time for taxpayers to have a county watchdog on their county board, and I'm glad to have the opportunity to be that watchdog," Berger said. Early voting is underway for this run-off race. It runs through June 19. Election Day is June 22.

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