By AUBRIE GEORGE
Dan Roccato spent the last eight years serving residents of Moorestown as a mayor and council member. When his term expired this December, he left with no regrets — just a thing or two he might have done differently.
Roccato was elected to Council in 2002 and served two, consecutive terms on the governing body. He was sworn in as mayor of Moorestown in January 2009.
“My first goal, when I became mayor, was to restore the level of civility and humility on Council,” Roccato said. “You may not agree with all of our decisions, but I think everyone would agree that this Council was very responsive, transparent and effective.”
In December 2009, Roccato announced he would not seek re-election for a third term on Council. Instead, the father of four said he planned to devote more time to his family, church, and business.
Looking back at the past eight years, Roccato said some of his happier moments include the preservation of more than 300 acres of open space, which he said Moorestown residents will enjoy for years to come.
Roccato said he’s also proud of all of the work Council did to honor Moorestown veterans while he was in office.
“What we did for our veterans here In Moorestown — specifically for Major John Pryor and the four Vietnam veterans who lost their lives — dedicating two parks in their memory, I think, is an incredibly appropriate way to honor them for future generations,” Roccato said.
As far as disappointments, Roccato said his biggest was not being able to get a new town hall built during his tenure.
“I remember that night in August when that building burned,” Roccato said. “After the fire was out, I thought ‘within six months, we can get this thing back up and running.’”
While Roccato said Council obviously made some mistakes in regard to the project, he said he was proud of the logical way in which officials have approached it.
“I think we said we were going to be methodical and set a budget and that we were not going to exceed that budget,” Roccato said. “On one hand, I’m proud of the fact that we didn’t just throw an endless amount of money at a project we weren’t sure about. On the other hand, I’m disappointed we’re not further along.”
Another challenge during his tenure, he said, was the troublesome municipal budget that was, no doubt, affected by a global economic meltdown and an essentially bankrupt state.
“It was a struggle for us to make sure that we didn’t put more of a burden on our taxpayers while continuing to deliver services,” Roccato said. “I’m pretty proud of the way we did that — it was very, very detail oriented and, in some ways, painful.”
He said he’s proud of township employees who stepped up to the plate and sacrificed to help out during the budget process.
“At the end of the day, the decisions we made were fact-based and in the best interest of our employees and our taxpayers. We didn’t raise taxes and we’re probably one of the only towns in the area that did that.”
In retrospect, Roccato said, there are a couple of things he might have done differently.
“It’s tough because you want to always have an answer or a solution,” he said. “If I had to do it all over again, I’d make a bigger effort to listen more.”
As he moves on, he said he would miss the day-to-day duties of being mayor and helping to run the town.
“Everything from Starbucks asking to help them out with a flood issue, to someone getting a hold of you in the supermarket talking about some ideas for reducing the budget, to one of our police officers or township employees suggesting a better way to get things done,” he said. “That’s all part of service to the township.”
Roccato lives in town with his wife Carol and their four children. He is the owner of Quaker Wealth Management, an investment advisory firm, and also works as an adjunct college professor.
Aside from watching more Monday Night Football, Roccato said his post-Council plans include more teaching at Rutgers University and more media work for Fox news.
He also plans to spend more time with his family and hopes the Roccato family tradition of serving Moorestown will continue through his son, Jack, who volunteers with the fire department.
“He’s extraordinarily committed and dedicated,” Roccato said of his son. “I hope he got those genetics form me, and that he’ll continue to serve this township.”