(DURHAM) -- The two major party candidates for North Carolina Governor faced off in the Triangle, Wednesday, at UNC-TV in a debate sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters. It was the first of three scheduled televised debates ahead of the November election. On issues ranging from taxes, jobs and education, the top two candidates in the race found little on which they agreed.
Early in the debate, Walter Dalton went on the offensive against Pat McCrory on issues of taxes and race. Dalton said he understands the needs of the people. "I will fight for you. I will fight for the middle class ... for working families ... for senior citizens that are on fixed incomes. And working together, we will move North Carolina forward."
McCrory says his experience as a mayor in Charlotte makes him qualified. "What I want to do is bring my leadership skills that I have acquired, both the public and private sector, and bring a team together to work throughout the state to implement an infastructure plan, to reform our education, to reform an outdated tax system."
McCrory says the state should lower corporate and income tax rates. "I think it would reduce the need to give these up front cash incentives when you're throwing money at new businesses, and again taxing existing businesses, which in turn helps pay for those incentives."
Democratic Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton says incentives are necessarily to land jobs. "The key is to make sure our incentives are in competitive with other states, and the best incentive of all is our workforce."
The lieutenant Governor on Wednesday night, also accused McCrory for being insensitive to black voters for running a commercial featuring an eastern North Carolina sheriff who made what some black leaders call insensitive remarks. Dalton called it a serious mistake, but McCrory said he was offended about a Dalton campaign video featuring black residents criticizing him.
The two candidates also took on the hot button issue of education funding. Lt. Governor Walter Dalton said more funding for early education is vital.
"smart Start and More at Four are so important. And he supported the 20 percent cuts to that budget. That was held unconstitutional, and the Legislature still did not come back and fix it."
Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory says it is not a matter of just spending more on education. "It's a matter of using the resources that we have, to look at the results, teach more effectively, and support our local school systems more effectively. And that's what I'm going to do."
Another issue that has had North Carolinians on edge in 2012 is the controversial form of natural gas drilling. McCrory says the state should give fracking a serious look as an energy and revenue source.
"It's time to quit sitting on the sidelines. Borrow policies that have already been in place by other Democratic and Republican Governors across the nation. Implement those in North Carolina and let the private sector determine whether or not there is natural gas underneath our precious ground."
Dalton fired back, saying McCrory has a vested interest in fracking. "Spoken like someone who represents big oil, and his law firm represents the American Petroleum Institute, so it's no surprise that he is making those types of comments.
Voter Identification also made it's way in to the forum Wednesday. Republican McCrory says he believes voters should present Voter ID at the polls while Democrat Walter Dalton says new laws are not needed. They also went head to head on a mass transit plan.
The debate aired live from the studios of UNC-TV in Durham County, and the candidates were questioned by a panel that includes TV news reporters from Charlotte, Wilmington and the Triad. The candidates have two more TV debates this month.