About 50 people attended the event, which was hosted by Chancellor James Moeser and moderated by Institute of Government Director Michael Smith.
The Senate candidates were incumbent Sens. Ellie Kinnaird and Howard Lee, both D-Orange, and their Republican challengers Bill Boyd and Vickie Hargrove. House of Representatives candidates included incumbents Reps. Joe Hackney and Verla Insko, both D-Orange, and their challengers Libertarian John Bauman and Republican William Towne. GOP candidate Rod Chaney did not attend.
The meeting, which included questions from both the moderator and audience members, centered on the University, as discussion revolved around tuition increases, faculty salaries and building costs. Insko, who voted for the current state budget that, in effect, approved the $600 tuition increase at UNC, said University costs are a responsibility of the state, not the students, and therefore does not support a large tuition increase.
But Towne said tuition should keep up with the economy. UNC-system leaders do raise tuition incrementally to coincide with inflation rates. A possible solution would be to raise out-of-state tuition, Boyd said. But Kinnaird said doing so would drive away valuable students.
When asked how they would make the University more competitive, most of the candidates said more money was needed to improve faculty salaries. Insko said low salaries are a factor in driving many faculty members away.
Lee said the University's laboratories also need improving. Doing so, he said, would bring in more research money.
Boyd, who said he had already voted for the bond, added that it is important to borrow the money now and make the necessary improvements because waiting would only create more expenses.
But Bauman questioned where the money for all the improvements would come from.
Towne and Hargrove said the University should seek private contributions to help pay for improvements.