The Pennsylvania 8th Congressional District seat is up for grabs and Democrat Steve Santarsiero and Republican Brian Fitzpatrick hope to gain the votes necessary in the Nov. 8 election to represent their constituents.
Santarsiero and Fitzpatrick engaged in a substantive debate Thursday afternoon at Bucks County Community College's Lower Campus, Bristol. Issues ranged from taxes to foreign policy.
Fitzpatrick spent 15 years as an FBI agent. Santarsiero currently serves as a state representative in the 31st Pennsylvania Legislative District, consisting of Bucks County.
Bucks County Community College part-time social and behavioral science faculty member Bill Pezza moderated the debate.
On the tax front, Santarsiero said the government needs to ensure the tax system is fair.
"It's time that we inject fairness into our system," he said, adding voters in the district believe the tax system is rigged.
Fitzpatrick agreed, noting the internal revenue code is filled with special loopholes.
"We have to make America a fair place and incentivize people to do business in this country," he said.
The candidates were asked about the threat North Korea possess.
According to Santarsiero, the country must be engaged in the international community and must set a goal of nonproliferation.
Fitzpatrick said America must continue to impose sanctions on countries such as Iran.
Regarding ISIS, Fitzpatrick suggested cutting off the illicit money laundering which funds ISIS and other terror groups, as well as working with Arab allies, particularly the Kurds, and effective law enforcement.
"We need to take reasonable measures," he said of combating ISIS.
Santarsiero stressed America must work with its Arab allies in confronting ISIS.
In terms of expanding healthcare coverage and cutting costs, Fitzpatrick stressed that healthcare is a necessity in America. Costs have increased, while many remain uninsured, he said.
His recommendations include expanding access by reducing costs, portability from one employee to another and ensuring that tests that are unnecessary are not ordered.
"I think more competition is good," he added.
Santarsiero said he would push for a public option and allow Medicare to negotiate to bring costs down.
"We need to make sure people have another option," he said.
The candidates provided their views on undocumented aliens. Fitzpatrick said the flow of illegal immigrants into the country must be dealt with humanely.
"Immigration is not a bad thing, it's a good thing," he said.
Santarsiero added the borders must be secured and those who have already entered the country and play by the rules "have the opportunity to gain legal status."
Fitzpatrick and Santarsiero were also asked how to help the younger generation renew their faith in politics.
Santarsiero said he knows the younger generation is optimistic. The nation must divide the red and blue divide.
Fitzpatrick said the youth are the future of America.