On Special Election War Footing, Stellato Prepared to Stand Behind Cureton at Tuesday Convention

To have a special election or not have a special election.

That is the question in Bergen County, where a letter submitted today by former (or not) Sheriff Mike Saudino would appear to have found its way into Secretary of State Tahesha Way’s mailbox outside the 37-day window and thus, according to statute, removing the need for a special election on Nov. 6th.

Saudino says he’s still sheriff, with the intent to resign on Oct. 5th.

But that’s not the opinion of Bergen County Democratic Committee Chairman Lou Stellato, who said his organization is moving ahead anyway with the understanding – on the strength of Saudino vacating his office a week ago outside the 37-day perimeter – that a special election will occur.

“If someone cleans their office and desk out, then he’s resigned,” Stellato told InsiderNJ.

Seeking clarity, the senators this week fired of a letter to Way. Clerk John Hogan also had questions this afternoon.

But Stellato is moving forward.

And every indication today was that Way is in agreement and ready to proceed.

UPDATED: Way denied Saudino’s effort to try to stay alive on the job through Oct. 5th.

Republicans agree. They want a special election on Nov. 6th.

The chairman backs former Englewood Detective Sergeant Anthony Cureton as Saudino’s replacement heading into a scheduled Tuesday election.

“There were a number of people we looked at as we worked on this, 16 hours a day for the last six days, a myriad of people possible for the position,” Stellato said. “We vetted them and we looked at the best possible candidate that would be a good fit with this slate we have running in 35 days.”

The chairman liked Cureton, local president of the NAACP.

“He’s been a soldier, a detective sergeant in Englewood, worked for the Sheriff’s Office in a public relations capacity and has an extensive education and active presence in church and in the party,” Stellato said.

“We’re a patch group of humanity, the Democratic Party – we practice what we preach,” he added, when asked about the selection of an African American candidate on the heels of racist remarks made by former Sheriff Saudino, the reason for his departure from his office.

As for questions about the special election’s possible negation of 40,000 vote-by-mail ballots, the chairman said he received new information from Secretary of State Way’s office.

“The deal is this, if I ask for a VBM and I voted and I get another one and I don’t vote, my first one counts,” Stellato said. “Originally they thought  if I don’t vote the second time then I don’t vote.

“That’s huge,” he added.

Cureton will have competition at Tuesday’s convention.

Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler will also take a crack at the job.

But Stellato is confident his choice will prevail.

“He’ll have the support of the municipal committees, without question,” he said. “I’ve been making calls all day and he has met very little resistance.”



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