The two Democratic candidates for State Assembly in the 39th district want incumbents Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) and Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) to repudiate Bergen County Republicans for welcoming former sheriff Michael Saudino back to the GOP.
Westwood Mayor John Birkner, Jr. called the decision of Saudino to return to the Republicans less than after he was forced to resign for making racist and homophobic comments “alarming.”
“Did they forget how vile and deeply offensive the sheriff’s words were or do they now not care as long as they believe he can help them secure money and votes?” asked Birkner. “What does this say about the extreme direction of the Bergen County Republican Party, including Holly Schepisi and Bob Auth, that they are enthusiastically embracing someone so widely condemned for expressing racist and homophobic views?”
Emerson council president Gerald Falotico, a former police officer, said that Schepisi and Auth “are ready to hit the campaign trail” with the former sheriff and called on the legislators to disavow him.
That’s something Schepisi and Auth already did.
After the recording of Saudino’s comments became public, Schepisi and Auth issued a statement calling on the Republican-turned-Democrat-turned Republican to resign.
“Bigotry has no place in politics. And those who express those views should not hold public office. We cannot go back to a time fueled by stereotypes, fear and mistrust. Intolerance and discrimination is counter to everything we stand for as Americans. There can be no moral ambiguity,” Schepisi and Auth said last September.
Falotico says it’s “time for those who truly stand against hatred and intolerance to challenge this ploy to rehabilitate the former sheriff’s image and career for partisan gain.”
“It is shameful, but not surprising, that Holly Schepisi and Bob Auth have refused to disavow their party’s leadership,” said Falotico. “Will Schepisi and Auth commit to rejecting any contributions from the Bergen County Republican Organization and refuse to donate to it as long as it embraces and provides a platform for the former sheriff?”
Birkner said that it was “particularly disturbing that Bergen County Republican Chairman Jack Zisa says he believes Saudino ‘[has] always had a Republican soul.’”
“My Republican friends do not subscribe to the bigoted, insensitive ideology apparently embraced by their party’s leaders,” Birkner said. “I hope that Republican voters who share our values of inclusion and respect will strongly consider whether the current Bergen County GOP accurately represents their views.”