SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -U.S. Representative Buddy Carter and Democratic challenger Lisa Ring came face to face during a political forum for the first time Tuesday.
The candidates tackled issues from minimum wage to prison reform during the NAACP’s political debate, and they have different views on several key topics.
"I just think it's important that we understand there are significant differences here in the two candidates,” Carter said. “I'm going to make sure that our story's told and that people understand that we've accomplished a lot. We've been the party of results not of resistance, not of rhetoric."
The incumbent Republican is in his second term in congress.
He's the former mayor of Pooler and served in both the state House and Senate.
He's a pharmacist and on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
"What I would hope that they look at is, you know, ask yourself the question are you better off than you were two years ago? Are you better off than you were four years ago? I don't think there's any question about it. Our economy's booming. Our unemployment rate is at record lows."
Democratic opponent Ring agreed it was important to have both candidates in the same room for the first time.
"People will get to hear how we stand on various issues and what our vision for the first district is and make up their own minds of who they want to vote for and the direction they see us moving in,” she said.
Ring lives in Richmond Hill and hasn't held an elected position before.
She's a former corrections officer and both a military spouse and mom. She believes Independent voters will be a key group in this election.
"The largest number is Independents, and they're deciding based on issues,” she said. “So I think we have a great chance because we're talking to people about the issues, and we're connecting with them. People want to see some real change."
Health care is one issue where the candidates disagree. Both recognize it is important to those in the coastal Georgia, but differ in how they want to improve it for residents.
Carter said he doesn’t support Medicaid expansion and said competition among insurance companies is creating better outcomes for Georgians.
“If you look at it, you see that we have more choices now, and choices are key when you talk about health care,” Carter said. “We need to get back to a point where insurance companies are fighting for your business, not to the point where we were just a couple of years ago where we were begging insurance companies to stay in the market. We need to have more competition. That is extremely important, and I think we’ve achieved that. You’ve seen premiums go down. You’ve seen more insurance policies available, and that’s good.”
Ring said she wants Medicaid expanded to give Americans a universal, single-payer system.
"We have been fighting for a universal, single-payer healthcare system for over 100 years, and it's time for us to catch up with the rest of the world,” she said. “The Affordable Care Act is something he wanted to do away with, and there was no other plan put in place. People in this district are very concerned. We already have a problem with access to health care for millions of Americans across the United States, but taking away the pre-existing conditions protections and the mandate, which also makes prices cheaper, is making it even more inaccessible to people They’re concerned about losing health care.”
The League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia and WTOC will host these same candidates at a forum on Oct. 24 at the Coastal Georgia Center in Savannah. WTOC will live stream the debate live on WTOC.com starting at 7 p.m.