Andrew Zwicker (D) Candidate for NJ State Assembly
Profession: educator, scientist
Q: Why are you running?
“For the same reason I ran back in 2015 — to be an effective public servant, and to use my scientific background to, hopefully, craft sound public policy on behalf of the people of the 16th legislative district.”
Q: Can NJ Transit be fixed?
“NJ Transit has unfortunately gone from being one of the jewels of the country, when it comes to public transportation, to one of the laggards. And it’s happened over many years of a lack of funding and oversight.
So there’s a bunch of different things that need to happen. One is, and it is happening and happening slowly, is a new group of engineers.”
Q: Open Space vs Affordable Housing
"Preserving open space and farmland is 100 percent compatible. When people think about this, they often think that building more units is the way to meet an affordable housing obligation, and that the only solution is to build outward into our open space.
“The reality is that we need to think creatively.”
Q: Thoughts on current NJ leadership?
"We obviously had eight years of a previous governor. We changed parties, we changed philosophies, we changed approaches.”
“I think Gov. Murphy has worked very hard to put into place a variety of different pieces of legislation around everything from climate change to worker protections to investment in college students, pre-k students, to growing jobs.”
Q: US News & World Report ranked New Jersey near the bottom nationally for fiscal stability. How do you ensure that the state has balanced budgets and improves its credit rating?
“Our fiscal health begins and ends with our debt obligation. We’ve got decades of neglect when it comes to that. From a lack of funding into the public pension system and from a lack of fully funding our schools, which drives property taxes, we have, over multiple administrations, created a fiscal mess. And we are reaching a tipping point quickly.”
“The legislature, over the last couple of years, has continued to put ever increasing amounts into paying down our debt. And that’s going to take us much more years to do. But we have to do that, because that then allows us to free up money for other programs, in conjunction with things that are going to grow the economy through job creation.”
Q: Where do you stand on marijuana legalization?
“If we can ensure that our police have the proper tools and that we have practices and policies in place to keep this away from minors, then I am supportive of adult use of marijuana.”
Q: What are the differences between you and your opponents?
“I have a unique background. And that unique background informs everything I do.”
“And I don’t just try to work on only science issues or only technical issues, though it’s, of course, what I am informed by and what I spend my day job at. But I believe that my background is uniquely different from my opponents and that we actually need many more scientists and engineers in elected office at all levels, not just simply at the state level.” ■