Donald DeZarn, the senior operations manager for Butler/Wilson Dining Services,lost his bid for a seat in the New Jersey State Senate on Nov. 5, bringing his eight-month campaign on a Libertarian platform to a close. Instead, Democratic incumbent Linda Greenstein will continue to represent the state’s 14th district.
DeZarn received the Libertarian nomination at a third-party convention in March. He ran on a platform that advocated limiting government, reducing the state’s debt and legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. He garnered about 2 percent of the district’s vote, The Associated Press reported.
“Honestly there was never any hope of winning … [but] I was quite happy,” DeZarn said. “We ran to get a message out, and I think we were very successful at getting our message out,” he added.
At the University, DeZarn is known for his 17 years of work in Dining Services. He took a year-long tour of duty in Iraq in 2005.
The campaign for state Senate was DeZarn’s first bid for public office. Despite the loss, he has not ruled out the possibility of running again in the future.
“I hadn’t planned on it, but I’ve had several people approach me about several things,” he said. “I’m considering it strongly,” he said.
DeZarn received little media coverage during the campaign, so he went door-to-door to drum up support, he said. DeZarn said that his opponents, Inverso and Greenstein, agreed to participate in a Mid-Jersey Chamber of Commerce debate on the condition that he would not be invited.
“I think they just didn’t want to give me any more attention draw, because a lot of people had no idea I was running. Allowing me into the debate, that would just be giving me more access to the voters,” DeZarn explained. “They tried every way possible to ignore me,” he added.
Greenstein and Inverso did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
One of the most prominent points of DeZarn’s platform was his support for the legalization of medical marijuana, which he particularly supports for veterans. DeZarn was arrested for smoking marijuana at a Smoke Down Prohibition V rally in August.
He appeared in federal court to answer federal marijuana charges in late October and will be sentenced by a judge in December, according to a campaign press release. If found guilty, he may be fined up to $1,000 or be sentenced to a year in federal prison.
It is unclear how a conviction would affect DeZarn’s job at the University.
“We cannot speculate on the outcome of a pending court case, and we do not discuss personnel matters,” University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua said.
Throughout the campaign, DeZarn largely kept his bid for Senate separate from his work at the University, he said.
There is no University policy governing employees who run for elected office in a personal capacity, Mbugua told The Daily Princetonian in March.
Nonetheless, DeZarn said he was thankful that he was allowed to pursue public office and work at Dining Services simultaneously.
“I’m still very thankful that the University allowed me to run the type of campaign that I did — you know, it was a little bit controversial I’m sure to some people,” he said. “I will always be in debt to the University for what they allowed me to do.”