RARITAN, NJ - A fifth generation in Raritan, current Republican councilman Paul Giraldi is running for another term on the council as he brings a “legacy knowledge” from his family history in town.
“I have dedicated the past nine years to being on the council, and would like to give Raritan another three years of excellent service,” he said.
Giraldi was born and raised in Raritan, and spent his youth swimming and fishing in the Raritan River, and delivering newspapers in town at age 12. A graduate of Bridgewater-Raritan High School, Giraldi worked for a few months at the Johns Manville plant before joining the Army.
“I served three years, and did an extended tour in Vietnam as a dog handler with an infantry company,” he said. “Upon my honorable discharge, for the next 10 years, I became a police officer in Fairfax, Virginia, and Tampa, Florida.”
After that, Giraldi moved into the private industry, working at companies like United Technologies, Radio Shack and Webcraft Technologies in positions like safety, security and environmental.
“My biggest opportunity came when I was hired at Liz Claiborne, a fortune 500 company, and rose to the level of global vice president,” he said. “I did that for 22 years, running eight departments and traveling the globe and overseeing approximately 800 people.”
Giraldi said his last position was 10 years as chief of investigations for the State of New Jersey, before retiring this summer.
With his vast business experience in hand, Giraldi said people in Raritan understand that it is important to improve the business environment for the borough to grow and compete with other communities.
“We have had some success with moving out damaged or failing businesses, such as at the circle and on the highway,” he said. “Our biggest disappointment is our shopping center, which had been neglected for many many years by the previous owner.”
“It was common knowledge that the mall was a tax write-off, and that is why it was allowed to decay,” he added. “We have new owners, and let’s see if they make the investment to bring the mall back to a condition that will attract new businesses.”
Giraldi said he and his running mates – councilman Nicolas Carra and mayor hopeful, and current councilman, Zachary Bray – are committed to working on the current businesses and bringing in new ones.
“Zack is leading the charge on the economic development committee, and ‘Discovering Raritan,’ for its first time around, was a success, and we look forward to other offerings to our businesses,” Giraldi said. “An additional aspect with the new development going into Raritan near the railroad station, block 81, is also going to bring in a new group of people, which will bring in new buyers of products and goods from our businesses. It never hurts to have new consumers who have money to spend.”
With regard to block 81 and the new apartments near the railroad station, Giraldi said it is the last large piece of property for developing left in town.
“Some minor buildings may be constructed, but we have about run out of space,” he said. “Our focus is to enhance the existing businesses and, where appropriate, to upgrade existing businesses.”
“What we need to do is bring in a professional with knowledge and vision to rework the business areas to attract new people,” he added. “This was done in Somerville, and look at their Main Street now, it was a complete transformation and Raritan needs to do the same. I will push this idea in the coming years, and I feel strongly it will lead to success.”
Giraldi said the borough is also going through more roadway construction than he has ever seen right now. Most of it, he said, is utility work, which the borough has no control over regarding time, date or location.
“Hopefully most of the work will end soon and the streets will get back to normal,” he said. “The police are doing an excellent job of notifying us on street closures, and even with this, it’s a bit of a hustle. The normal street repairs and repavings are overseen by the borough engineer and is limited to resources available.”
Giraldi said he brings his family history and an extensive business knowledge to the council every day.
“I do not go along with the flow, I take anything that has tax dollars associated with it and it gets put under a microscope,” he said. “I also like to feel that I have an abundance of common sense, and I use that when considering any items that come before the council.”