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Candidates Speak to the Future of NC's First Congressional District

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WARRENTON — For the first time in years, Democrats have a chance of winning back theU.S. House of Representatives. Republicans are fighting hard to keep their majority.

For eight years, Democrats have owned North Carolina's First Congressional District which runs from the Virginia border to Wayne and Lenoir counties.

What do the candidates -- Democratic incumbentEva Claytonand Republican challenger Duane Kratzer -- consider the most important issues for the First District?

"I think it's vitally important that we talk about jobs and industry, something we're lacking severely in the First District. And education. I think the two actually go hand in hand with each other," says Kratzer, a podiatrist and real estate broker in Greenville.

"Education, obviously health care, prescription drugs for our seniors, health care for our children, [and] increasing the minimum wage for our workers" are important issues for Clayton, a former Warren County commissioner and businesswoman who has held the First District post since 1992.

Both candidates say technology and infrastructure can help reverse thousands of recent job losses.

"You have to bring in the infrastructure. You need water in your schools, big broadband access so that individuals can have access to the technology," says Clayton.

Kratzer agrees, but says Clayton and the Hunt administration should take part of the blame.

"We have not seen any industry and jobs come in here," says Kratzer. "TheState Legislaturehas left us out of the infrastructure -- roads, highways, bridges, sewers. We're kind of the stepchild of eastern North Carolina and we just need to make some changes and get that done."

Both candidates agree that schools are a priority.

"We need either to pay our teachers as the professionals they are or find other ways of subsidizing their resources and their living expenses," says Clayton.

"I'd particularly like to see us work very hard to educate this generation of young black and Hispanic students, because I feel if we can solve the economic and educational poverty that they're in now, we can solve a lot of problems in not only eastern north Carolina, but the rest of the country as well," says Kratzer.

The First District is one of the poorest in the state. The latestCensus Bureaufigures show the average income among the 500,000 voters is just under $20,000 a year.


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