NAACP president elected to replace sheriff caught in racist rant

Voters elected Anthony Cureton to replace Michael Saudino, who resigned after a scandal this year. Watch video

Bergen County voters elected Anthony Cureton Tuesday to fill the role of sheriff after the departure of disgraced former Sheriff Michael Saudino earlier this year.

According to unofficial results, Cureton, a Democrat, got 53 percent of the votes, while Republican John “Jack” DeLorenzo got 37 percent. Independents James M. Ahearn got 1 percent, Robert J Kugler and Robert P. Tormo each got about 4 percent. 

“When we started, we knew that not only would this be a challenging campaign but that this was a critical time for the Sheriff’s office,” Cureton said during his victory speech. “That it was time for new leadership to move the department forward.” 

Saudino resigned Sept. 21 after a recording of him making racist comments was made public and everyone from the governor to the attorney general called on him to step down.

State officials then grappled with conflicting election laws and decided that 41 days was far enough out to hold an election for a full sheriff’s term.

The political parties scrambled to identify candidates for the three-year office.

Cureton retired as a detective sergeant from the Englewood Police Department in July 2014. The NAACP president was backed by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker. 

DeLorenzo retired as a detective captain from the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department after serving 25 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran, served in the Military Peace Corps and three terms on the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education before being elected mayor. His current term ends in 2019.

Kugler, who is chief of police in Saddle Brook, sued to try to stop the election two weeks ago, saying Gov. Phil Murphy should appoint a sheriff until next year’s election. His bid was denied by Judge Mitchel E. Ostrer, who said Kugler could contest the election after it is held. 

Ahearn retired in 2003 from the Rutherford Police Department. And Tormo retired in 2017 from the State Police. 

Allison Pries may be reached at apries@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonPries. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

 

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