Hector Tavarez, a retired police captain from the Egg Harbor Township Police Department, announced today that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District. If successful, Tavarez, who is also the co-founder and Executive Director of the Egg Harbor Township Police Activities League (EHT PAL) and the Police Activities League of Atlantic County, would face incumbent Jeff Van Drew in the fall of 2022.
Tavarez has never held an elected office but said he is confident that his experience as a police officer, police executive, and executive director of a non-profit makes him a strong candidate with deep ties to the community. “Over the years, I’ve considered running for office but never did for one simple reason,” said Tavarez. “I was always convinced that the good we were doing for the PAL kids far outweighed any benefit I could produce as a local politician. That all began to change for me after watching violence across our nation for months. The final straw came on January 6th as I watched the insurrection live at our own Capitol. It was a horrible, horrible day.
“I’ve been serving my community since I was in elementary school. I’m running for Congress because, like many of you, I am disappointed and disgusted with our present representation in D.C. I am like you, not a millionaire, not an attorney, not a career politician. I want to give the people of the 2nd District a better choice, one that is more like them.”
Tavarez’s parents relocated from Puerto Rico in the 1960s to NJ. Hector was born in Hammonton and grew up in Mullica Township with four sisters and two brothers. He graduated Oakcrest High School in 1984 and earned an Associates and Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Atlantic Cape Community College and Richard Stockton.
University. Tavarez is also a graduate of the West Point Command and Leadership School and Certified Public Manager program.
Tavarez has lived in Egg Harbor Township for the last 34 years and has been married for 32 years. He has two adult children, a child in high school, and a granddaughter with a second grandchild due in the fall.
Starting his police career at the EHT Police Department in 1986, he worked his way through the ranks serving in many roles. Some of those roles included patrol, D.A.R.E., Adopt-a-Cop, Off-Road Motorcycle, Community Policing Officer, Detective Sergeant in charge of Juvenile and Community Services, Lieutenant of patrol, the Office of Professional Responsibility, Internal Affairs and Accreditation, Commander of the EHTPD, and Deputy Commander of the Atlantic County Hostage and Community Crisis Team. Tavarez retired in 2011 after 25 years of service as Captain of the Services Division.
Tavarez co-founded the EHTPAL as a youth organization in 1989 after he and some fellow officers agreed that the relationship between the community and the police department could be improved. “It became apparent after just a few months on the road that we were not very well liked or respected by the people we served,” said Tavarez. “For a person who signed up to help people it was just a hard thing to deal with. So we came up with this idea of starting PAL.” Tavarez saw an opportunity to change things and create a better understanding between officers and the public. The EHT PAL was expanded to the Police Activities League of Atlantic County in 2020. Nearly 32 years later, the EHT PAL is still considered one the best PAL organizations in the country (learn more at EHTPAL.org).