On January 20th, the NCGOP hosted a debate for North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Kathy Manning (D) who is not seeking reelection.

The debate included Col. Christian Castelli, Dr. Mary Ann Contogiannis, Jay Wagner (former mayor of High Point), and Mark Walker (Congressman of the 6th district from 2015 to 2021). Absent were candidates Addison McDowell, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and Bo Hines, who was previously endorsed by Trump in his 2022 campaign in the 13th Congressional District.

Dr. Mary Ann Contogiannis has lived in the district since she was two years old, grew up in the district and has been practicing medicine in the district for the past twenty-five years.

Col. Christian Castelli served in unform for twenty-two years until he retired in 2012. He was an airborne ranger, and he earned his green beret in 1998.

Congressman Mark Walker who previously served the district is running again for his old congressional seat. Prior to serving the 6th district in Congress he was a Baptist minister in Winston-Salem and Greensboro.

Jay Wagner has served as the mayor of High Point since 2016. Wagner has been an attorney at law for twenty-five years and is a partner at Fisher-Wagner law firm.

Following their opening statements, candidates responded to questions on several issues including national debt, education, and foreign affairs.

What is your solution to our spending problem? Would any solution also entail cutting back on entitlements including Social Security, etc? Would you be willing to commit to initiate a bill within one hundred days of taking office to balance the budget?

Dr. Contogiannis: “Of course I would be willing to commit to produce a bill to balance the budget. Entitlements are a huge problem… My expertise in medicine will allow me to prevent cutbacks in Medicare and in our healthcare system. When we look at entitlements from Social Security, part of the problem that we do have is that our government constantly goes in and robs funds from Social Security and from Medicare.”

Col. Castelli: “I support a balanced budget that simply means we don’t spend more than we take into the tax base…I have no plans to end, to reduce Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits… when you take a comprehensive look at our federal government there’s a lot of ways, there’s a lot of redundancy out there and there’s departments that we can cut…”

Congressman Walker: “I don’t think you can balance the budget unless you go after mandatory spending and here’s why: Fifty years ago, mandatory spending was about 20-22%. Fast forward to where we are now, mandatory spending is 75-77% and discretionary spending is only 22-23% you can’t balance the budget unless you go after these mandatory spending items.”

Mayor Wagner: “We don’t have a revenue problem we have a spending problem, and everybody here knows that; there’s plenty of revenue coming in.” Mayor Wagner went on to explain the “the Penny Plan” which was introduced in 2011 by then Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) as a way to control spending and balance the budget.

What would you do about the Department of Education (DOE)?

Col. Castelli: “… the more people I talk to in this district they are all interested in emulating the model that we just put in place in Randolph County. The model is a classical education high school coupled with an option for other kids who don’t want to go to a four-year college. It gets them a degree or certificate and into the workplace fueling the local community and jobs.”

Congressman Walker: “We don’t have a money problem in education; we have an ideology problem in education…if you want to take back education you have to do it on the local level and here’s why: all these grants come with mandates that are intentionally indoctrinating your children and your grandchildren…the people on Capitol Hill need to get behind those trying to do good work changing education from the bottom up.”

Mayor Wagner: “I think we have to abolish the DOE cesspool… Kids should not be trapped in these failing public schools, we have got to get them out and give them the chance to have access to the American Dream and it starts with abolishing the DOE.”

Dr. Contogiannis: “…parents need to be able to guide their children’s education and to guide their upbringing…unfortunately a lot of that is at the local level but from a national level we could certainly look at getting rid of the DOE…it truly is a problem we can fix.”

Should we continue to bankroll Ukraine and this defense of its borders while ours are lying open? How long and how much should we help Israel and its war and plan to eliminate Hamas?

Col. Castelli: “I think we have our commitments, and we have to stand by our commitments, but I do oppose a blank check and I do believe we need significant oversight of any of these countries that we put money into we need to have oversight.”

Congressman Walker: “I don’t think we have any obligations that we owe Ukraine we have too many obligations here at home…”

Mayor Wagner: “Ukraine deserves no more money until we get our own border in order…What’s happened in Israel is the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Our administration right now is trying to tell Israel to back off, slow down…Israel has every right to defend itself against the terrorist organization that slaughters babies…that is doing the most despicable things that this world has seen since the 1940s… we’ve got to do everything we can to support Israel in that effort.”

Dr. Contogiannis: “Absolutely we need to support Israel there should never be a genocide of a race like that… we talk about the Ukraine and our border… I am extremely concerned about that open border … before we appropriate more money to the Ukraine…we need to protect our national and personal securities and liberties first.”

When elected what committee or committees where you’d like to be seated on? What would be your first official duty?

Congressman Walker: “I’m going to go back and pick up where I left off…The 2018 session was the last time we had a balanced budget, and I was privileged to lead that. I remember my first time going in the Oval Office, I led the House in repealing Obamacare and the defunding Planned Parenthood. We’re going to pick up where I left off and keep introducing bills.”

Mayor Wagner: “I think that my expertise would be you would be well served if I was on the Judiciary Committee…This area of the state was the economic engine of North Carolina…so I think it would be a great fit for me to be on Commerce… the thing that I’m going to do in Washington is actually not going to be a thing in Washington…when I don’t need to be there (Washington) I’m going to be right back here and I will be meeting with your leaders; I’m going to be meeting with your people that’s how you can get things done for the people of our district.”

Dr. Contogiannis: “I’m attracted to the House Ways and Means Committee and Homeland Security; there are many issues under those committees that I feel very strongly about… talking about national security issues I think that’s extremely important for all of us and I definitely want to work on that in the future, in addition to my medical concerns.”

Col. Castelli: “I was asked that same question last cycle when I was your nominee, and when the district extended much further north back then my answer was transportation and infrastructure. That committee was more important to the constituency at the time and our district extends much further south to include two VA hospitals and a VA home…this time around I would probably say transportation and infrastructure and veterans’ affairs.”

When Republicans take back the White House, obviously an effort should be made to finish the wall, but what would you do about the 8 million illegal immigrants that have crossed the border since 2021?

Col. Castelli: “Democrats would lead you to believe that illegal immigration is a victimless crime we’re all victims here and the list of crimes is as long as you’re arm: rape, murder… there’s a free for all down there and it’s placing our national security in extreme jeopardy it is only a matter of time until we have another 9/11 in this country based on what’s happening… the issue is just unbearable for the people that live down there and pretty soon it’s going to be unbearable for us right here…we have to deport them out and restart this whole program.”

Congressman Walker: “If I was to boil it down to one thing that infuriates me about this administration it is that they are privy to the same intel that I’ve seen in working in intelligence and counterterrorism the same Intel sees the pictures in the videos of what happens to the little boys and girls as migrants trying to cross our southern border…You ask for a solution we need to start deporting these people.”

Mayor Wagner: “What we have on the borders is a lack of leadership and it’s not just lack of leadership; this is all by design. They want an open border. Joe Biden is not willing to sacrifice the left wing of his party to shut the border down…Over three million (more than the population of 15 states) crossed the border illegally last year. They need immediately deported and you should never be allowed to have United States citizenship if you did not get into our country legally, that is step number one.”

Dr. Contogiannis: “Anyone who is here illegally needs to be sent back out…the only way that you should become a citizen is to go through the citizenship process…that will be a priority for me to reinstate immigration policies and procedures so that we do not have this big wide-open border and this debacle going across it.”