Princeton physicist seeks public office

By Cinthia Leon
Albuquerque, N.M.

Andrew Zwicker wants to change politics. His prescription for change, however, is not the typical one.

“I want to use evidence to make decisions,” he said at a press conference Aug. 1, discussing his candidacy for New Jersey assemblyman for the 16th District. “I come from a different background and I have a different approach.”

Zwicker’s focus on evidence is not surprising. For the last 18 years, Zwicker has been a plasma physicist — focusing on fusion energy research — at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Although he’s a scientist, Zwicker has always had passion for politics.

“As a scientist I want to change the world,” he said. “As a politician, I want to make New Jersey better.”

The campaign for assemblyman is not his first. In 2014, Zwicker ran for Congress but lost in the Democratic primary to Bonnie Watson Coleman. Zwicker rebounded soon after, though, launching his campaign for the General Assembly this year.

Zwicker says his priorities are the economy, improving education, clean energy and climate change. He expressed a desire to make New Jersey more environmentally friendly by creating new sources of energy. “I would insist the U.S. become a leader when it comes to climate change,” he said.

During the conference, Zwicker answered questions about several heated topics, including the environment, education, marijuana legalization. There was even a brief mention of immigration.

On education, Zwicker made it clear that he wanted to improve the education system and make it more equal. “You need a good building, you need books, you need desks, but you need good teachers,” he said.

When asked for his thoughts on marijuana legalization, Zwicker expressed his support. “I think medical is not harmful. It clearly needs to be studied differently.” He said he believed that it was hypocritical that alcohol is legal but marijuana is not.

Zwicker also took a strong stand on campaign finance. “The worst thing about politics is that the money is corrupting everything,” he said.

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