Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, who admitted to making racist and homophobic slurs earlier and were made public this week, and four undersheriffs have resigned effective immediately.
Saudino was facing mounting pressure from all corners to resign since the comments, which were recorded in January after Gov. Phil Murphy's inauguration, and published by public radio station WNYC on Thursday.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said she wanted to expel Saudino, who was a Republican before he switched to the Democrats in advance of his reelection to a third term in office, from the Democratic Party.
Weinberg says she believes party bylaws would allow for such a step, and plans to ask state Democratic Chairman John Currie and Bergen County Democratic Committee Chairman Lou Stellato to explore their options and pursue the step.
“I want it made very clear,’’ Weinberg said during a brief interview in the NJTV studios in Newark. “This is completely opposite from what the Democratic Party stands for, what Governor Murphy stands for and what the legislature stands for."
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Saudino was absent from the county offices, jailhouse and courthouse on Friday. He did not answer his door at his home in Emerson.
A rally and sit-in had been planned for the parking lot of at the Sheriff's Office at Bergen County Plaza in Hackensack that was to be led by Kenyatta Stewart, Newark’s City Council attorney and a prominent civil rights advocate in Paterson. But the rally has since been canceled.
“People of all backgrounds, races and religions went out to vote for him,” Stewart said. “He shouldn’t feel comfortable serving in a capacity where people can’t trust now because his true feelings have come out.”
Here is the statement from the Bergen County Sheriff's Office:
The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office announces that effective this date and at this time Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino has submitted his resignation as the Sheriff of Bergen County.
Additionally, Executive Undersheriff George Buono, Undersheriff Robert Colaneri, Undersheriff Brian Smith and Undersheriff Joseph Hornyak have also submitted their resignations effective immediately.
Pending the appointment of an interim sheriff by Governor Phil Murphy, Sheriff’s Office Chief Kevin Pell will be the officer-in-charge of the sheriff’s department’s operations and Bergen County Sheriff’s Office Warden Steve Ahrendt will be the officer-in-charge of the Bergen County jail’s operations.
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