Republican 2nd Congressional Candidates Debate Marijuana, Education Costs


New England College hosted the first of three congressional primary debates Tuesday in the Putnam Center for Performing Arts. Candidates for the Second Congressional District included Lily Tang Williams, George Hansel, and Bob Burns. They discussed many topics ranging from student debt relief, securing the border, and legalizing marijuana. Kyle Dobrie, a sophomore, and reporter for the NewEnglander, was on the media panel asking questions on some of the most imperative political issues of 2022. 

When asked about Biden’s student debt relief plan, all candidates agreed that loan forgiveness is not a viable solution. Bob Burns had strong feelings about the issue, stating that “not everyone needs a college degree” and that “someone needs to pump our gas.” As for Tang Williams and Hansel, they swayed towards the same side as Burns, alluding that at some point, the people would end up partially paying the loans back through higher taxes.

Dobrie then asked the candidates about their stance on legalizing marijuana on a federal level. Across the board, the candidates agreed that the drug should be descheduled, which would remove cannabis from the Federal Controlled Substances Act. 

The candidates were also asked about how to protect second amendment rights while keeping schools safe. Burns said the internet is negatively affecting mental health among children which is contributing to school violence. Burns then followed by saying “TikTok is more dangerous than cigarettes” and that the internet is “inundating our children.”

Tang Williams frequently referenced her upbringing in China and said that disarming citizens is not the solution.

“Guns are not dangerous, criminals are. That’s why we need more good people with guns to shoot the bad people with guns,” Tang Williams said. She went on to say “gun free policies have blood on their hands.”

Hansel said he is in favor of increasing law enforcement budgets, an act he said he prioritized as the current Mayor of Keene.

“We need to make sure that students in the classroom and focusing on learning,” Hansel said.

Dr. Nate Shrader, a professor of Political Science at NEC said Burns and Tang Williams likely appealed to MAGA republicans, while Hansel may fare better in a general election.

“If I were Ann Kuster, I’d be worried about facing George Hansel,” Shrader said.

The Primary election takes place on September 13th, while the general election is on November 8th.

To watch a video of the Second Congressional District debate or to watch the upcoming debates on Wednesday at 6 pm, and Tuesday at Noon, click here!

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So great