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Saudino is out, Way says, leaving special election intact

Secretary of State rules that Saudino resignation was effective last Friday

By David Wildstein, September 28 2018 6:51 pm

Secretary of State Tahesha Way is standing by her decision to call a special election for Bergen County Sheriff, saying that Michael Saudino’s resignation letter — not submitted until today —  has no legal effect because it contradicts a press release issued by his office on Friday.

Saudino submitted a resignation letter today saying he would leave office on October 5, which would come after the deadline to elect a new Sheriff in November.   Bergen County Clerk John Hogan is now forced to halt vote-by-mail ballots until new candidates are filed next week and then reprint about 40,000 ballots.  Some people have already voted.

In his letter, Saudino stated his intent to return to work next week and finish up his final days in office.

The embattled Saudino found himself in the middle of a firestorm last week when an audio tape full of racist and homophobic comments became public.  A statement by the Sheriff’s Department on Friday said that he had resigned, along with several of his Undersheriffs.  That came one day after Gov. Phil Murphy and other officials called on him to resign.

“I am aware that, earlier today, Mr. Saudino sent the Governor what purported to be a letter of resignation. That letter has no legal effect, given that a notice of resignation has already been filed with my office,” Way wrote to an attorney representing the Bergen County Clerk. “The position of the Bergen County Sheriff has been vacant since September 21 and remains vacant. Under state law, the position must be filled at the general election next month.”

Way cited Saudino’s actions on Saturday as evidence of his immediate resignation, and is relying on representation that Saudino had directed his communications director to put out a resignation statement.  The Secretary of State accepted the statement in lieu of a formal letter.

“On Saturday, September 22, 2018, Mr. Saudino returned to BCSO to remove his personal belongings from his office and voluntarily return his BCSO-issued equipment. On Sunday, September 23, 2018, two BCSO officers reported to Mr. Saudino’s residence to retrieve his BCSO­ issued vehicle. Based on the September 21 statement and Mr. Saudino’s subsequent actions, BCSO removed Mr. Saudino from its payroll, effective September 21,” Way said.

Two days ago, Way ordered Hogan to hold the special election this year.

“Those instructions remain in effect. Given the approaching deadlines, I encourage the County Clerk to proceed with his planning without further delay,” Way said.

If Saudino appears at the Bergen County Sheriff’s office next week, his former employees are not expected to recognize them as their boss.

Way has not yet responded to a letter sent to her by six State Senators who represents parts of Bergen County questioning her actions.

response to Bergen County Clerk

Filed_Vacancy

Bergen Sheriff letter from Senators

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