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Emerson Chief Michael Saudino is the new sheriff in Bergen County

Photo Credit: COURTESY “MICHAEL SAUDINO FOR B.C. SHERIFF 2010″
Photo Credit: COURTESY “MICHAEL SAUDINO FOR B.C. SHERIFF 2010″
Photo Credit: COURTESY “MICHAEL SAUDINO FOR B.C. SHERIFF 2010″

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : Emerson Police Chief Michael Saudino ousted incumbent Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire in Tuesday’s elections. With only a few votes left to be counted, Saudino had 113,113. McGuire was nearly 9 percent behind, with 103,887.


Saudino delivers acceptance speech
(CLIFFVIEW PILOT PHOTO)

With 504 of 553 districts reporting as of just before 10:30 p.m., Saudino was ahead by 12,000 votes, an insurmountable margin, according to Richard Moriarity of the “Michael Saudino for Bergen County Sheriff 2010″ campaign. Although the incumbent closed the margin somewhat, it wasn’t going to be nearly enough.

McGuire, seeking a third term, was the most progressive sheriff in recent memory. His programs have been cited as exemplary — and, in some cases, used as  models. But he also came off as having higher aspirations, with a self-confident swagger that branded him a braggart in some corners, despite what he insisted was his dedication, first and foremost, to serving his county.

He also owed allegiance to the Bergen County Democratic Organization, some of whose members have been the subjects of federal investigations in recent years.

That’s party what undid Dennis McNerney, who was unseated as Bergen County executive by Republican Kathe Donovan, the county clerk. There’s also no discounting the trickle-down effect of the anti-Obama movement.

But McGuire also may have shrunk in stature when stacked against the experience of his challenger — a no-nonsense administrator who vowed to remove politics and reduce spending in the massive agency.

Saudino promises a fresh start



Saudino himself would tell you at the beginning of the campaign that he was a dark horse.

But he was determined, he shot straight, and he surrounded himself with talent — something he’ll certainly do as the law enforcement officer in charge of operating the county jail, safely shuttling prisoners in and out of the county courthouse, and gathering forensic evidence at major crimes scenes, among other responsibilities.

After 38 years in law enforcement, he has developed the kind of diplomacy needed in such a critical position — a large reason why he won the backing of, among others, the Bergen County PBA and the New Jersey Laborers Union.

“We feel Michael Saudino brings credibility and integrity at a time when our institutions of government are distrusted by many New Jerseyans,” said Raymond M. Pocino, vice president and eastern regional manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.

Unafraid to call ’em as he sees ’em, Saudino went after a gun buy-back program McGuire capped three months ago with a news conference at which he was joined by fellow candidates.

“McGuire likes to boast about his gun buyback program and the importance of getting weapons off the streets and I agree. Every gun taken off the streets makes our communities safer,” the sheriff-elect said. “It does, however, beg the question of why the Sheriff didn’t feel this was a priority in mid-January when the project was approved?”

Bergen County Sheriff-Elect Michael Saudino apparently knew what was coming — a resounding victory at the polls
(PHOTO: COURTESY “MICHAEL SAUDINO FOR B.C. SHERIFF 2010″)

“A request for the use of $75,000.00 of forfeiture funds for the program was submitted to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office by McGuire on January 7, 2010. Approval of his request was granted by the Prosecutor’s Office on January 11, 2010. Suspiciously, McGuire delayed implementation of the program until mid-August 2010.

“For those of you who are counting, that is eight months after the project was approved but a mere three months before the election. Waiting to implement this program until it was politically advantageous is appalling.

“Bergen County is seeing through the thin veil that this Sheriff has tried to put in front of their eyes. When I confronted McGuire with these facts during The League of Women Voters of Bergen County debate, he remained silent, offering no explanation.”

And then, in what may be considered a bit of prophesy, Saudino went for it: “The residents of Bergen County are smarter than McGuire gives them credit for, a lesson he will learn on November 2nd.”

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