HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Two candidates, Dale Strong and Casey Wardynski, are competing for the Republican nomination for Alabama’s 5th congressional district. News 19 hosted a debate between Strong and Wardynski, and with Election Day right around the corner, both answered questions about their plans if elected.

In a time when the nation is facing sharp divides on issues like gun control, abortion rights, and high prices at the pump, Strong and Wardynski each said they could help steer the country in a better direction.

Strong emphasized his commitment to strengthening border security.

“When you go throughout this district, it’s the same people are concerned about the southern border and the invasion that is occurring in our country,” Strong said.

Wardynski highlighted his military background and justified the need for national defense spending.

“The Army budget is getting crushed,” Wardynski said. “China is a navy and air force problem. We have a competitor and Texas Army futures command.”

The candidates seemed to agree on the importance of shrinking the sphere of federal government control. On issues ranging from gun control to the curriculum taught in schools, the frequent answer given was to assign that power to the states.

When the focus shifted to North Alabama, Wardynski, as the former superintendent of Huntsville City Schools, said he addressed a system plagued with problems.

“When I came here to Huntsville, it was under state control,” Wardynski said. “There was a failing school system. It had a great tax base, but they’d run out of money.”

As inflation rates continue to rise, Strong mentioned the economic growth Madison County experienced during his time as county commissioner.

“That’s what we’ve done, worked with the entire region, and that’s what’s made us stronger,” Strong said. “That’s what’s led us to the number-one area to live in, and if you look at the growth in North Alabama, it’s because we’ve worked as a team, not as individuals.”

While both candidates addressed their ties to Madison County, News 19 political analyst Jess Brown said each candidate could have done a better job addressing issues relevant to their potential constituents.

“A big chunk of the electorate doesn’t live in Huntsville or Madison County, but there was very little discussion by these candidates as far as non-Madison County issues,” Brown said.

Strong led Wardynski 45% to 23% in the primary election; however, Brown said Wardynski offered a better overall performance in the debate.

“Dale Strong and his team could have done a better job emphasizing what I know are his personality traits,” Brown said.

In a debate, Brown said voters had the opportunity to see the candidates in an important setting.

“You saw the candidates operate and communicate under pressure, and that’s important because they will face that in Congress,” Brown said.

Brown said the candidates in the 5th congressional race defied expectations by participating in a debate. Unlike other candidates in Alabama runoff elections, Strong, in particular, agreed to debate despite his substantial lead in the polls.

The runoff election will take place on June 21.