Video of BGR’s 10/27 Candidate Forum for Sheriff, Clerk & Surrogate

Published On November 1, 2016 » 863 Views» By Charles Powers » Non-Partisan Bergen Freeholder Candidate Forum Information, Uncategorized
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Video – and the background to it – of BGR’s October 27 Candidate Forum for County Surrogate, Clerk and Sheriff.

As promised, and despite a very cold rain, all 6 County Constitutional Officer candidates – 3 Republican and 3 Democrats – for County Sheriff, Clerk and Surrogate – participated in BGR’s County Officer Candidate Forum  held on the evening of October 27 at the Teaneck Library Auditorium. They joined about 70 audience members.
One of these two candidates will be elected to the officer position each seeks in the general election to be held on November 8.
This website post includes the definitions of these three County offices and short bios of the two candidates for each office. For the format and questions that BGR posed to these candidates  click here.  The video of that forum is found in three readily clickable segments on this website in the order in which the candidates for the three offices appeared at the forum. (A drawing to determine that sequence was conducted immediately prior to the forum . To see the report on the BGR forum posted by Record reporter Todd South that night click here

Surrogate: Probably no  County office is less understood by the general populace than the office of County Surrogate — unless, that is, you have been engaged in working through the many issues related to the adjudication of probate and estate problems or involved in complex adoption procedures. Happily there is a County website where the office and its history are well described. click here  As that website makes clear, Democrat Michael Dressler has been the County Surrogate for nearly 20 years and touts both his control of expenses and the efficiency of his office as the reason he should be re-elected. His Republican challenger, Robert Avery, surrogatean attorney whose private practice and local court assignments has covered the same areas of the law, has throughout the campaign been questioning whether the procedures and technology used by the incumbent can cope with contemporary identity theft and other security problems involved in the determinations made by Surrogates. Todd South’s Record report of the first debate between these two candidates gave us a window into what and how the two candidates would engage each other in their second public debate encounter. For that earlier Record story click here

As to what actually happened, click the arrow in the video window to view the actual 19-minute forum dialogue between Surrogate Dressler and Challenger Avery.

Clerk: John Hogan has been County Clerk since in 2010 he became the first Democrat in more than 20 years to to holdclerk this County elected position.  He actively defends the effectiveness of his administration of the diverse set of Clerk
responsibilities — and his record in control of the office’s cost. Republican challenger Hector Olmo, Councilman in  Cresskill and a PBA leader in his native Tenafly, questioned the adequacy of the security of the current Clerk’s office – most notably the part of the electoral process the Clerk oversees. Hogan stoutly defended his election process security record claiming there had been no challenges to it. Hence there is an interesting local parallel to key elements in the national presidential debate.  The ebb and flow of the Clerk candidates debate was captured by Todd South’s report in the Record click hereBut the video immediately below demonstrates that the dialogue became quite vigorous when the questions about the integrity and security of electoral processes which have dominated the national election debate were brought home to Bergen County. Click the arrow to see the debate between Clerk Hogan and challenger Olmo

Sheriff:  Important changes have occurred in both the role and the party affiliation of the County’s Sheriff, Michael Saudino.  Saudino had capped a long career the Emerson police department – and was its police chief – when he first ran for the three-year Sheriff’s term as a Republican in 2010 and then again in 2013. Then during this, Saudino’s second term, the Democratic County Executive candidate, James Tedesco, ran on a platform that prominently featured the realignment of the County Police Department into the Sheriff’s office.  When Tedesco was elected and his Democratic Party had a 5-2 majority in the Freeholder Board, he moved decisively to carry out this realignment sheriff program. At every turn Tedesco argued that the combining the two agencies would achieve major savings to Bergen taxpayers. And within a year, the realignment had happened. The result is a single law enforcement corps in the County – a Sheriff’s office – far larger than the one for which Saudino had originally run.  The Republican party had never supported this realignment. Then, in January of 2016, Saudino announced a political party shift and the Sheriff had little trouble securing the Democratic Party nomination for another term as Sheriff.  Saudino’s 2016 Republican challenger, Manuel Alfonso, who has 28 years of law enforcement and currently heads the division of the state Department of Correction’s office that evaluates Saudino’s jail – has challenged many of what he sees as the consequent personnel and budgetary policies in the Sheriff’s office. He has been most critical of how Saudino manages the corps of investigators, a county position over which county sheriff’s have brad discretionary authority.  The stage was, then, set for a contentious sheriff’s candidate dialogue at the BGR forum. And that is what occurred: Click the arrow below to see the interchange between Sheriff Saudino and Challenger Alfonso.

In the earlier League of Women Voters Debate, these issues had been prominent as is seen in Todd South’s story the day after the LWV sheriff’s debate. Click here  A video of that LWV discussion has very recently been placed on You Tube click here

Additional information about positions of all of these candidates for Sheriff, Clerk, and Surrogate were included as candidate responses to questions compiled by the League of Women Voters click here  and then click the box go to my races.  (There were three individual forums – one each for each of these 3 offices – sponsored by the LWV prior to BGR’s  forum on Thursday the 27th, which was the last scheduled public dialogue prior to the election.




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