An Interview with LP Candidate Jeff Hetrick

Jeff Hetrick
Jeff Hetrick

What office, in which district, are you running for? 

My name is Jeff Hetrick, and I am running for Congress in the 11th District of New Jersey.

How long have you been a member of the Libertarian Party?

I’ve been a member of the Libertarian Party for more than 15 years. I first ran for office in 2007 for NJ State Assembly under the Libertarian ticket. I again ran for NJ State Assembly in 2015. I was also an NJ delegate to the LP National Convention in Orlando this past May where I had a chance to personally chat with all of the candidates (Gary Johnson, Bill Weld, Austin Petersen, John McAfee, Alicia Dearn, Larry Sharpe, etc… ).

What is your background? Employment, education, family, hobbies, interests?

I have a bachelor’s in computer science with a minor in music from the New Jersey Institute of Technology/Rutgers. After graduating I fell into quality assurance. I now have over 15 years of experience working in quality within the automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical, and food & beverage industries. Most of my experience is in process control and quality auditing. I believe it is skills like mine that are sorely lacking in today’s government.

Music has always been a passion of mine. I play guitar and piano, and have set up my own mini personal recording studio. It’s not fancy, but it works. For those audiophiles out there, I use a Shure SM58 mic for most vocal tracks and an AT 2050 for recording acoustic.

I love my two daughters, ages 5 and 7, who love to sing karaoke, which is another reason to go with a Shure SM58. They’re very durable; you can run over it with a truck and it’ll work just fine.

If elected, what is the first piece of legislation you would introduce?

My goal as a candidate is not to introduce legislation. My promise is to vote “no” on any legislation that I believe increases the size and scope of government or will increase your tax burden, and will strive to find ways to make our government do more for less and return it to something “for” and “of” the people.

If anything, I would be looking for legislation to be repealed.

Why are you running?

I, like many of you, am concerned about the growth of our government, its wasteful spending, and its reach into nearly every aspect of our lives. It’s time that our government had proper checks and balances. I want to ask simple questions like “Is this something government should be involved in?”

I run not only for my own kids, but for you and your children. What our government is doing is unfair to all future generations, and it’s time for it to stop.

How would you make yourself attractive to voters who have been electing Rodney Frelinghuysen in landslides since 1994? Voters in the 11th District seem pretty happy with his record.

Part of the reason I have opted to run is because we have had Frelinghuysen since 1995.  I’m a strong advocate for choice as well as term limits. One of my campaign pledges will be to serve no more than 12 years in office. I intend to release a more detailed list of all of my pledges in early August.

Believe it or not, I don’t necessarily think that Frelinghuysen has done a particularly “bad” job, but I can’t say it’s particularly “good” either.  I’ve reviewed some of his voting record, and while much of what he has voted for sounds like they could be good policies, he has voted numerous times for increasing the size and scope of government. He’s also voted to increase spending multiple times, as well as increase the debt limit. These are issues I would have a hard line stance against.

For example, he continually votes “yea” on bills such as HR 719 – Continuing Appropriations Act, 2016. While I know many people are fearful of a government “shut-down,” I don’t believe the solution should be to keep going ahead and putting band-aids on a gaping wound.

Why not primary challenge Frelinghuysen and run as a Republican?

I can’t in good faith even consider that as an option.  The Republican planks have far too many issues I strongly disagree with. I believe it is actually a Bill Weld quote that says something to the effect of “We want government to stay out of your pocketbooks and out of your bedroom.”  The Republican Party wants to continue the failed War on Drugs, the War on Marriage Equality, etc.

You only received 0.9% of the vote in 2015 when you ran for a seat in District 27 for the New Jersey General Assembly. If you haven’t had a track record in winning a state seat, how can you expect to have any traction in a national level race?

To be honest, I don’t know how much traction I will have this year. Only time will tell. What I do know is that while collecting signatures for ballot access, a fair amount of people recognized my name. Beyond that, the Libertarian Party is running 10 Congressional Candidates in NJ this year as well as, I believe, another 10+ for local and state offices. Obviously we have Gary and Bill at the top of the ticket as well.

Once again, if I win, all I can promise is to be an unyielding voice for limited government and for abiding by the Constitution.

What sort of assistance, financial or otherwise, have you received from the Libertarian Party?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the support from the LP this year. The national LP and the Gary Johnson campaign have been working more closely with us and offered some graphics design assistance, among other things. Another interesting aspect has been that the John McAfee camp has offered free website development help for anyone running this year.  I haven’t taken them up on this offer yet, but I know some candidates have. I believe Tom Maciejewski was helped along by the McAfee team.

There is still a lot more I think the LP can do to help its candidates, and I’ve been a strong advocate on the inside of the party to help streamline this type of thing.  We are all just doing what we can. We aren’t full time politicians, or full time party advocates, but we are all very excited about this election, and people are doing a lot more for the party than I’ve ever seen before.

What would you recommend be attempted, either by government or by private individuals, to help resolve the recent violence perpetrated by, and against, the police?

The ongoing violence both towards and from the police is a complicated issue, and I won’t presume to have all the answers. A few key points that I believe can help to alleviate the issue would be to end the Drug War, and to end the concept of policing for profit. I believe that the militarization of our police force was a result of both the War on Drugs as the War on Terror. We not only elevated our police to be some form of quasi-military force, but we still expect them to perform routine “protect and serve” types of assignments. I don’t think they mesh.

When I was a kid, I never once heard an officer refer to anyone as a “civilian.” The very notion that police continue to call all of us civilians automatically infers that they believe they are working in a war zone, and that all of us are potential enemy combatants. If these police officers, while they are working in a “war zone,” are expected to make XYZ number of arrests and issue citations… It’s an explosive mix.

End the Drug War. Stop policing for profit. Possibly enhance police training to include more de-escalation techniques.

I like to think that body cameras are a good step in bringing more police accountability, but it hasn’t proven itself yet. If we can start with what I just said, I believe that more good cops would be justified in bringing bad cops to justice.

It’s a very complicated issue, and I could probably discuss this for hours.

Let’s conclude with some “final thoughts.” What would you say to the voters, and hopefully constituents, of New Jersey’s 11th District?

I believe it was Eisenhower who once said, “Once you start spending federal money in large amounts, it begins to look like free money.”

This notion has affected every branch of our government, and it needs to end.  Our elected officials sign appropriation bills with HUGE dollar amounts on them without even batting an eye.  This is our government, taking your hard earned dollars, skimming off the top, and then squandering the rest on things they believe will help them get re-elected by their constituency.  Quite frankly, it’s obscene.

The bottom line is that I want you to be able to use your own money as you see fit, and for you to make your own personal decisions.  Republicans want to ban abortions.  Democrats want to ban guns.  Republicans want to ban drugs.  Democrats want to ban sodas over 16 fluid ounces.

I don’t want to ban anything, provided you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s rights.

The purpose of our government is to defend YOUR right to life, liberty and property (and pursuit of happiness).  I WILL fight for those rights and follow the Constitution to the best of my ability.

Vote for me this November and let’s make the American government sane again.

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Dillon Eliassen is a former Managing Editor of Being Libertarian. Dillon works in the sales department of a privately owned small company. He holds a BA in Journalism & Creative Writing from Lyndon State College, and needs only to complete his thesis for his Master’s of English from Montclair State University (something which his accomplished and beautiful wife, Alice, is continually pestering him about). He is the author of The Apathetic, available at He is a self-described Thoreauvian Minarchist.