NUTLEY – Commissioner Carmen Orechio, 81, is a former state Senate President, and a commissioner since 1968. For the last 25 years he has served as the Commissioner of Public Safety, overseeing the police, fire and ambulance services.
They call him the dean.
“Commissioner Orechio is a tremendous resource whenever we get into uncharted waters,” said his colleague Commissioner Mauro Tucci. “That’s because his answers are based not in theory but life experience. We are so lucky to have his wealth of knowledge.”
“I’ve lived in town all my life,” said Orechio, who plans to file his
petitions today to meet the deadline. “It’s been a great privilege to
serve, and I want to do my part to the keep the community safe.”
Under his direction, Nutley has maintained a hybrid fire department, which now consists of 38 career officers and 60 volunteers. The police department is 65-officers strong. Nutley furnishes a detox vehicle and the expertise to combat hazardous materials, which is the result of state and federal grants Orechio helped secure.
The commissioner has a reputation for tending to families in need,
particularly helping people with illness or disability.
Of the five sitting commissioners, he was the low vote-getter last time.
No one has ever served 40 years on the commission, according to
Assemblyman Fred Scalara (D-Essex), who serves as Orechio’s campaign manager. “I’ve been with him 35 years, he’s like an uncle to me, do you understand what I’m saying?” said Scalara, who as a career firefighter claims a special respect for Orechio.
“This is a man who touches the people,” Scalara added. “Running his campaign is the biggest honor for me. He wants to break the record, and we’re going to do that.”
“I define Nutley as a community where people take pride in residing,” Orechio said. “There is no corruption in this community, all the years I know of. Things have changed here in my lifetime, yes. There was once a hardware store in town, and a milkman. Things change.
“We have to roll with the punches, but we have to do that without
jeopardizing Nutley,” he added.
Commissioner Thomas Evans said his senior colleague embodies Nutley, and still remembers when he was a child and Orechio crouched beside him to shake his hand.
“He asked me if I play baseball,” said Evans. “Then he asked me if I was left or right-handed. He said, ‘If you were, imagine how valuable you could be for the Yankees?’”
Evans said it was good enough to end up serving with Orechio, whom he describes as the town’s “high watermark” for service.