PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — D. Raja will tell you he’s not a traditional politician.
In fact, he’s rather new to politics.
But he is a very successful entrepreneur who started a local company 18 years ago that created hundreds of jobs and made him wealthy.
Raja thinks he has the right combination of skills to turn Allegheny County around.
The race for Allegheny County executive just got a bit more interesting with the entry of an Indian American entrepreneur.
“I’m optimistic that we can fundamentally change government in Allegheny County,” Raja told supporters today, “and that is why I am proud to tell you today that I’m a candidate for Allegheny County executive.”
The first thing you need to know about D. Raja is his name.
“My only name is Raja, and I just took the initial D.” Raja told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.
Delano: “So you prefer that everyone call you Raja?”
Raja: “Correct, correct.”
Delano: “Kind of like Madonna?”
Raja: “I don’t know if I would go there, Jon,” says Raja with a big laugh.
A native of Bangalore and later Madras, India, Raja came to Pittsburgh in the 1980s to get a Masters degree in computer science.
“It was relatively simple,” he said. “They gave me a scholarship to go to school.”
Raja says he fell in love with this area and co-founded CEI, a software engineering company that employs 300 and has made millions of dollars.
“Mostly Fortune 50 kind of clients. We’ll go there, understand what they want, we’ll design the software, write the software, install it, and then we’ll come back,” explains Raja.
Raja tells supporters Allegheny County needs his business skills to make what he calls disruptive change.
“I work in the tech sector and there we always look for what we call disruptive change — that’s the kind of change that makes a company leapfrog its competition. That is the kind of transformational change that is needed today.”
Raja, a Republican, says his skills as a Mt. Lebanon commissioner will help as county executive.
“We’ve had budget shortfalls. I really feel that I’ve been able to look at the budget in detail and come up with ways not only to address the shortfalls but also to make some tax cuts,” he said.
On other issues like reassessments and Port Authority Transit, Raja is still doing his homework.
He is up against two other Republicans in the May 17 primary – County Councilman Chuck McCullough and Tea Party organizer Patti Weaver.
Raja has already put together a campaign team and says he will win the GOP nomination.
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