Jason Ruiz. Photo courtesy of Jason Ruiz.

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

CAMDENJason Ruiz said some time ago he was going through his great-grandmother’s mementos and I found her old election worker ID card, and that made him curious.

Ruiz, who was recognized this month by the New Jersey Young Democrats organization for his work in the party, said he learned she was a long-time election board worker in Puerto Rico and was politically active until her passing many years ago.

“She inspires me,” Ruiz, 37, recently told Front Runner New Jersey/La Prensa. “Through seemingly small gestures, she was determined to exercise her rights and speak her voice whenever she could. She knew that it takes the little decisions to make the biggest impact.”

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Ruiz works full time as an account manager at NGI and holds an Executive MBA from Rider University and bachelor’s from Rowan University. When Ruiz volunteered for U.S. Rep. Andy Kim’s historic campaign in 2018, he carried that lesson with him: how little things can make those big impacts.

Inspired by Rep. Andy Kim

“Congressman Kim’s campaign was the very first that I have ever volunteered for,” Ruiz said. “At the time, I was living in Maple Shade (in district) and wanted to get involved somehow on the local level.

“The volunteer coordinators were really good at reaching out and putting folks to work. I saw how hard the Congressman worked and how authentic and kind he was towards people. It was exciting and inspiring to see such a diverse group of volunteers come out to make positive changes for the district,” Ruiz said.

Power in People of Color

Ruiz said that experience led him to getting involved with the South Jersey Young Democrats Black Caucus.

“I wanted to continue putting in effort for the party,” Ruiz said. “I attended a few meetings with the Young Dems and was soon helping out with the Black Caucus. We have a great team, under the leadership of Fatima Heyward, and we are all very motivated to speak up and act on behalf of marginalized people.”

Ruiz said he believes it is important for the Latin American community to get involved and access politics. He said while he never thought of himself as a role model, he hopes he can inspire others to take part.

Motivating Latin American Involvement

“It is so important for the Latin community to get involved, especially the young,” Ruiz said. “The brilliance of our American system is that our vote and voice matters; if we give that up, who will speak for us? Who will stand for us? We have to take ownership for our voice and our story.

“I never thought of myself as a role model but as someone just doing their part to help the country. When I was younger, it was easy for me to complain about politics. Putting the effort into canvassing, phone banking, and fundraising to make things happen is something different,” Ruiz added.

Ruiz said he moved to Camden three years ago and sees the greatness and potential in the city.

“I love Camden,” he said. “It’s a vibrant city with a lot of history and culture. It has its struggles that are not unique to cities in America but in the past few years I have seen a lot of new growth and development and hope that this continues.”

For the future, Ruiz said he plans to stay engaged in helping others find their voice.

“I will be continuing the fight for Latin, Black, and Indigenous People of Color in whatever capacity I can,” he said.

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