Sam Oropeza announced last week he will be running next year for a City Council at-large seat.
Oropeza, a Bridesburg resident, was the Republican nominee in May’s special election in the 5th Senatorial District. He took more than 43 percent in that race, losing to Democrat Jim Dillon, but that campaign emboldened him to run again.
“I can’t turn back now,” he said.
Oropeza made his announcement in the courtyard of J Street Lofts, in Harrowgate.
City Councilman David Oh – who is expected to run for mayor – introduced Oropeza, crediting him with organizing community cleanups and focusing on violent crime.
“We need people like Sam,” Oh said. “He works hard. He learns. He gets out there. He’s a workhorse.”
Oropeza, 37, works in real estate and heads the nonprofit Rescuing Streets Through Clean Ups. He’s a former boxer and MMA fighter. He is running to make City Hall more responsive and to fight back against District Attorney Larry Krasner’s policies.
While Oropeza cited Philadelphia’s challenges, such as its high poverty rate and violence among young people, he believes the city can get better.
“There’s so much opportunity here,” he said.
Others in attendance included Oropeza’s family; Mark LaVelle, Republican candidate in the 177th Legislative District; several union officials; a number of civic leaders; and up-and-coming UFC fighter Joey Pyfer.
Pete Smith, Republican leader in the 62nd Ward and the GOP’s candidate in 2019 in the 6th Councilmanic District, is not thrilled with Oropeza’s candidacy.
“It is very premature for Sam Oropeza to announce that he is running for City Council at large in an election that is a year away,” he said. “We currently have two special elections where James Hasher and Drew Murray are running. If one or both of these candidates win they will be endorsed incumbents next year. This seems to be a very selfish act only to cause a distraction just two weeks before an election. I encourage all residents of Philadelphia regardless of party to vote for these candidates. Nothing changes if nothing changes.” ••