RARITAN, NJ - A Raritan resident for more than 25 years whose family moved to Raritan Avenue in the early 1980s, Pablo Orozco has always wanted to run for local office and is simply hoping to make a difference in his local community.
“I find it important for the survival of our form of government to have new citizens with new ideas to run for office,” he said. “I was drawn to the idea that I can make a difference in my local community.”
Democrat Orozco is vying for one of two three-year seats on the Raritan Borough Council in November’s elections.
After attending grade school at St. Ann School and graduating from Immaculata High School, Orozco entered the Marine Corps bootcamp in Parris Island, South Carolina. He then continued to the Marine Corps Communications and Electronics School in California.
“After completing Communication School, I was assigned to the Somerville USMC Recruiting Office as a recruiter’s assistant,” he said. “When I was done with my time as a recruiter, I reported to Golf Battery 3rd Battalion 14th Marines West Trenton to finish my time in the USMC Reserves.”
Since his time in the Marines, Orozco worked as a manager in food service for TGI Fridays and Ruby Tuesday, before starting a career in sales, where he managed Internet marketing departments for auto dealerships.
“In 2009, I started my own Internet marketing business, which I sold in 2014 to Redline Automotive Merchandising, where I currently serve as the Northern New Jersey manager, overseeing our servicing of over 90 stores and counting,” he said.
Orozco said he has always had an interest in politics, both national and local. Before this year, he said, he was actually an undeclared voter.
“I believe in voting for the right person for the job, regardless of political party,” he said. “Running for local office is something that I have always wanted to do. Now is the right time for me and my family to finally take the plunge.”
There are several issues Orozco said he believes are paramount in Raritan right now, namely empty store fronts in the downtown area, minimal transparency in local government and a lack of interaction between the municipality and the citizens.
Orozco said he has spoken to residents around the borough, and he believes there are several things that could be done to improve Raritan.
The first, Orozco said, would be to bring back the annual street fair.
“I think this would be great step toward bringing back the sense of community I felt growing up in the 80s,” he said. “This would provide great exposure to our fantastic restaurants and businesses.”
In addition, Orozco said, he would like to see a revitalization of the downtown area and an active Chamber of Commerce.
“This goes hand in hand with bringing back our annual street fair,” he said. “As a former business owner, I know that our local business owners are busy running their businesses. They need to be able to see that the town is working side by side with the Chamber of Commerce for their mutual benefit.”
Orozco said he would like to see the borough encourage resident input for major projects and issues.
“I find that our residents are in the dark about many of the important projects and issues facing our town,” he said. “I want to help create an environment where all our town residents feel free to express their opinions on what’s happening.”
To help with that, Orozco said, he would like to see an expansion of government transparency through the use of social media, which has grown in popularity over the past few years.
“Our borough government does not currently take advantage of the power that social media has to reach people,” he said. “I currently use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote my campaign, and I am willing to adopt any other new technologies that will help reach the residents.”
That use of social media, Orozco said, would also be helpful for those residents who cannot attend council meetings in person, or watch them online.
“Our borough council meetings are currently broadcast on Fios and Cablevision, and I applaud our council for making that happen, but our residents are very busy people and our elected officials need to reach them in a way that is convenient to everyone,” he said. “With social media, we can bring the message to the residents instead of hoping that they tune in every other Tuesday at 7 p.m.”
Finally, Orozco said, he would like to see the borough bring back curbside grass pickup.
“This was an issue that has really struck a cord with a very high percentage of the residents,” he said. “The residents have expressed how difficult it is to bring their grass clippings down to the DPW to dispose of them.”
Orozco said he is proud to have the opportunity to run for local office.
“The fact that I am running for office in the town I grew up in is still surreal to me,” he said, “and I am honored at the chance to run for office.”