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Cash and Contention are Hallmarks of Campaigns in the 14th District

“I agree with the governor's decision for two reasons. First, as a national law, the website used should be a single, nationwide site to allow for portability, should people move from state to state. I agree that the potential cost of the site would be borne by New Jersey taxpayers and now it is a federal cost. Given that New Jersey already sends more dollars to Washington than we receive back, it is only correct to let Washington maintain the site."

Inverso said that if elected, his immediate legislative goal would be to promote job creation and economic development. He said his perspective on the subject took shape during his prior tenure in office, when he was among those who advocated the state Scholars Recruitment Program, which was designed to encourage New Jersey’s best students to pursue higher education opportunities within the state, rather than leaving New Jersey to pursue a college degree and employment.

“I talk to a lot of students and their future isn’t as bright as when I got out of school,” he said. “Young people don’t have the same opportunities because the jobs aren’t there. When I was in the Legislature, I pushed the Scholars Recruitment Program, which awarded scholarships to students who stayed in New Jersey."

“We were experiencing a brain drain. The way were we going to attract the best and brightest was through this program, which was based solely on academic achievement. But it fell victim to a lack of funding and I hope that we can replicate that program to keep our best students here in New Jersey."

Inverso had pointed observations about the level of debate in the 14th district, given the amount of money the race has attracted.

“This is not just competitive. It’s become the most vile you can imagine,” he said of recent campaign ads targeting him. “It’s despicable, it demeans the stature of the office we seek. They have completely tried to change the character of the person I am. People are starting to get turned off by it. The last year I ran (2004) I don’t think I spent more than $400,000-500,000 and that was excessive.”

Haas, who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 40 years and is CEO of Haas Pharmaceuticals, said one of his top goals, if elected, would be to “bring that industry back” in New Jersey. He said that New Jersey, still home to pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick and Merck & Co. of Whitehouse Station, among others, was once called “The Medicine Chest of the World,” and that the state can be called that again.

Among the libertarian candidates, state Senate hopeful Don DeZarn of East Windsor made news in September when he was arrested a second time during a demonstration outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia. DeZarn was cited after a similar incident in May for smoking marijuana in public. DeZarn recently explained that he suffers from symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his military tour of duty during 2005-2006 in Iraq and Afghanistan. He sees the “SmokeDown Prohibition VIII” events at Independence Hall, which were organized by a local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), as acts of civil disobedience in support of extending help for patients who need medical marijuana, which, he says, while legal in New Jersey, does not serve enough people who need it.

“I believe it is a moral responsibility to fight unjust laws,” DeZarn said. “Every day 22 veterans commit suicide. Not all of them are because of PTSD, but I in good conscience cannot wait until politicians get into office who want to change the laws.”

He advocates legalization of marijuana on personal freedom grounds consistent with public views that are adopted by most Libertarians. “I believe it should be regulated and taxed. Looking at Colorado and Washington where they have legalized it, it’s going to be a substantial increase in revenues to state coffers.” DeZArn believes those additional revenue from taxes on marijuana use should be applied in New Jersey for property tax relief.

A senior operations manager at Princeton University. DeZarn, a Kentucky native, and his wife of 22 years have a son and have lived in East Windsor for 18 years.

On the question of allowing public referendums in communities where charter schools are planned, DeZarn said, “I strongly support charter schools. My position on charter schools is we should clear the way of anything stopping them from operating. I support the current state position on charter schools and I would be against anything standing in the way of more charter schools opening.”

On whether the state should resurrect its open-space program and find a stable funding source for future land purchases, DeZarn said sees accumulating more state debt, which he says totals $280 billion, as a major obstacle.

“My position is with $280 billion in debt (in New Jersey) I think our No. 1 priority should be paying down that debt. I don’t think we should take anymore taxpayer’s money to pay for anything else but essential services and public safety. I support the concept of open space, but until we get our arms around this debt I don’t want to add any more for future generations to pay.”

On recent developments on Marriage Equality, DeZarn said, “I 100 percent supported it. I think it’s a shame it took a 10-year fight to give freedom and liberty to people who love each other and want to be together. One hundred years from now people are going to look at us and think we were living in the dark ages.”

His legislative priorities, if elected, start with addressing the state’s debt, which he said tops $280 billion. “I think the first step should be freezing property taxes,” he said. “A lot of politicians are saying there should be a 10 percent cap on property taxes. Those plans count on the economy making a miraculous comeback (as a way of generating more revenue).”

Among the 14th district’s Libertarian candidates for General Assembly, Sean O’connor, 27, is not married, and has no children. He is a Robbinsville native who now lives in East Windsor. This is his first attempt at running for election to public office.

He said he agreed with permitting local referendums on whether to allow he establishment of new charter schools. “If the communities vote on it and agree then of course. That’s their right” he said.

On open-space preservation he expressed a unique approach. “I would hope we could sell off open space to the private sector, (such as farmers or other private owners).

O’Connor said he was “very happy” with how the marriage equality issue was resolved by state courts.

“At this point nothing needs to be done in the Legislature because the courts did the right thing.”

His legislative priorities, if elected, include sponsoring a bill to freeze property taxes at the local and county levels, eliminating all unfunded state mandates, and abolishing core educational standards that have been issued by the federal government.

Steven J. Uccio, is also running for an Assembly seat on the Libertarian ballot. He is 27 and a native of New York City who has lived in East Windsor since 2010. Also a political newcomer, he said he decided to run because he thought he could do better job, especially “after the presidential election. I was very unimpressed with the Democratic and Republican candidates. I said, ‘We need a better candidate,’ and I decided to do it myself.”

On the charter school referendum issue, Uccio said, “I think the cost of schooling is a major concern in New Jersey. If there is no cost savings I would be against (allowing a public vote). I would definitely have to know why the town didn’t want to have a charter school there.”

On open space, he said, “Honestly, I don’t have an opinion on that. I would want to look into it further before giving an opinion on that.”

On marriage equality, he said, “The Libertarian Party universally supports marriage equality. I would support any ballot measure or legislation supporting marriage equality.”

He listed his legislative goals, should he be elected: “The No. 1 concern is property taxes. A lot of the state mandates on schools (are) driving up costs. Repealing the (federal) Common Core standards would help. I believe if we had counties absorb more towns that would eliminate redundancy and lower property taxes in New Jersey.”

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