Congressional Candidates on Triad Today

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Five Republican candidates for Congress in the new 6th district will be interviewed on Triad Today in a special voter education episode which will air this Saturday and Sunday.

Five GOP candidates for North Carolina's 6th congressional district in 2024. Left to right: Christian Castelli, Mary Ann Contogiannis, Jay Wagner, Addison McDowell, Mark Walker
There are six candidates registered for the March 5 Republican primary. Pictured left to right, they are: Christian Castelli, a combat veteran and business owner; Dr. Mary Ann Contogiannis, a plastic surgeon; former High Point Mayor Jay Wagner; former insurance lobbyist Addison McDowell; former Congressman Mark Walker, and (not pictured) attorney Bo Hines, the only one who declined to participate in the special.

Democrat Kathy Manning is not seeking re-election after the Republican-controlled state legislature re-drew map boundaries to favor a GOP candidate in the new district, which now includes southwest Guilford, southern Forsyth, northwest Cabarrus, Davie, Davidson and Rowan counties, High Point, Kernersville, and Walkertown.

Each of the five Republican candidates was given 5 minutes to talk about their personal and professional background, why they want to serve in Congress, and what their top priorities would be if elected. Here are excerpts from those conversations.

Jim: What about your personal or professional background prepares you to serve in Congress?

Wagner: I’ve spent the last eleven years serving the city of High Point, five on City Council, and six as Mayor, and I’ve had a very successful record of economic development.

McDowell: I spent four years working with Senator Ted Budd in his district office, and that includes much of the new 6th district, so I got to know the problems that the folks in this district have with navigating the bureaucracy of the federal government.

Contogiannis: My parents immigrated from Greece. We always went to church together. They taught us to love family, love God, and love our country. That was a moral compass for me in my life.

Castelli: I spent 22 years serving this great country, the Army provided me with a tremendous civilian and military education.  It taught me leadership, decision making and problem solving, and there’s no shortage of problems in our government that need to be solved today.

Walker: Knowing this community, serving this community, 16 years as a pastor, 16 years as a member of Congress, and closing over 1,800 veterans’ cases. We don’t talk about it that much because now it’s all about who has the largest social media profile, but this is still a position about serving your community, something we’re very proud of.

Jim: If elected, what problems or priorities would you want to tackle first?

Contogiannis: The most important one is closing our border.

Wagner: One party wants to shut the border down, and the other wants to manage the inflow, so I think we have to have a very serious discussion about what the policy should be and then be able to act on that.   

Walker: It’s reached a point where it has to be resolved very quickly. There were about 300,000 illegal immigrants who came across our border in the month of December alone, and those are just the ones we know about. 

Castelli: We have a border crisis of epic proportions. Some would lead you to believe that illegal immigration is a victimless crime, and that is absolutely false.

McDowell: We have to secure the border, and for me it’s a personal thing.  Today would have been my little brother’s 28th birthday, and we lost Luke to fentanyl that was likely manufactured in China and smuggled up through Mexico.

Jim: Should the federal government regulate social media and the internet, the same way it does with TV and radio?

Contogiannis: I know there needs to be regulation. The right vehicle is something to be determined, but yes, it needs to be regulated.

Walker: I think we’ve reached a place where we have to. There are countless issues we’re seeing with young folks and even adults who social media has consumed, but also it has created a place for racketeering and trafficking the way it’s utilized.  The bad guys are always going to use any kind of medium, so I think government has a role in making sure we have stop gaps for protection.

McDowell: Our children are facing a crisis, and I care about my daughter and I care about what she sees.    

Wagner: I think that’s something we have to look at, but we also can’t escape the fact that parents have some responsibility for what their children are doing. You can’t allow your kids to do things and not supervise what they’re doing, and then blame the government because they’re not regulating it.

Jim: Do you support term limits for members of Congress?

Wagner: Yes, I’ve signed a pledge to limit my terms and I did that as Mayor. I served six years, and I chose not to run again. 

Contogiannis: There is a point where people are there just too long and get entrenched in things. The most important thing is that voters can vote them in or out.  If you’re not doing a good job, then voters can take care of it.

Walker: We were blessed to be in leadership pretty quickly on, but it takes some time to navigate in a way you feel like you’re serving your community. But I do not approve of any situation where this is a lifelong job. It was never designed that way by our founding fathers.

Castelli: I have no desire to be a career politician. I am a soldier and I want to go up there and do a tour of duty in Washington and get things moving in the right direction.


This special edition of Triad Today airs Saturday at 7:30am on abc45, Sunday at 11am on MY48, and streams on WFMY+.


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