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Anthony Cureton Earns Dem Nod for Sheriff

As the president of the Bergen County NAACP, Anthony Cureton spoke at a Mahwah town council meeting last September, attempting to show the town’s residents that hate has no home in Bergen County. He was shouted down, repeatedly, by residents, and yelled at by the council president, but he didn’t back down. Now, with the endorsements of more than 20 local politicians, it seems likely that he will best Hasbrouck Heights mayor John “Jack” DeLorenzo, a Republican, as the next Bergen County sheriff.

As a 25-year veteran of the Englewood police department, and director for inmate social services and education at the Bergen County sheriff’s office for the last four years, Cureton told The Jewish Link he hopes to bring together the residents of the county he’s lived in for practically his whole life. Cureton also teaches as a adjunct professor in social sciences and criminology at Ramapo College; he has also taught at Fairleigh Dickinson and guest lectured at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Cureton was named the Democratic candidate for sheriff via election from the Bergen County Democratic Committee in the days after Sheriff Michael Saudino resigned along with four of his deputies. While an interim sheriff was named, Gov. Phil Murphy called for a special election to be held November 6, to replace Saudino, who was caught on tape making racist statements.

What many Bergen politicians love about Cureton is that as the NAACP president, he stands up not only for NAACP values, but for values that all people hold dear. “Anthony’s support at the Mahwah Council meetings showed not just what a leader should do, but also showed what a true sheriff does,” said Teaneck deputy mayor Mark Schwartz (who is also The Jewish Link’s co-publisher). “I’m talking about the sheriffs that we read about and watched on movies from decades and centuries ago. It was the wild west and he went right into the fight. Literally,” Schwartz added.

Englewood Councilman Michael Cohen added his thoughts: “What Anthony Cureton did in Mahwah, standing up and using his voice and platform to fight anti-Semitism and discrimination, can only be described as courageous. We need individuals such as Anthony Cureton to continue providing us with real leadership,” he told The Jewish Link.

Teaneck Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin also shared his support for Cureton. “I have had the pleasure to know Anthony Cureton for a decade. He is a person who cares about people and understands the moral obligation of government. I am happy to be voting for him,” Hameeduddin said.

One of Teaneck’s newest councilmembers, Keith Kaplan, remembered meeting Cureton in the context of the Mahwah town council. “I met Mr. Cureton for the first time in the parking lot outside after he spoke in Mahwah. He was hesitant when I approached, not knowing ‘which side I was on.’ I’m happy to know exactly which side he was on. And I’m thankful he spoke truth to power, from a place of principles and integrity— all the more so while under conditions of hatred and ridicule.”

Teaneck’s other deputy mayor Elie Katz, who organized a community meet-and-greet for Cureton in Teaneck on Wednesday evening, also threw his support fully behind him. “Anthony has been an advocate for every resident of Bergen County for many years. His sincere sensitivity to the needs of people as well as his 25 years in law enforcement and his recent years of working in the sheriff department makes him the best choice for sheriff,” said Katz.

Speaking of Cureton’s work in the sheriff’s office, Cureton told The Jewish Link that he feels that trust in the inherent goodness of the current officers, despite the context of the Sheriff Saudino resignation, will be key to his success. “One thing we can say that my opponent can’t say is that from working internally, these are good people. This unfortunate incident should not be any reflection on them,” he said.

“Upon election I would love to bring together the community, from amongst all the stakeholders and bases. I want to bring the county together so that all people feel protected. We need to re-establish trust internally, as well as externally, so the officers have a mission we can live to,” he told The Jewish Link. “My goal is to protect the Bergen County family, in honor, with integrity and in leadership,” he added.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) warmly endorsed Cureton, complimenting his dedication to the community. “Anthony Cureton’s distinguished career has been shaped by a true call to public service. As a police officer and a community leader, he has dedicated himself to bringing North Jersey together and keeping Bergen County families safe,” said Gottheimer in a statement.

Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker also released a statement offering support for Cureton. “Besides being an accomplished law enforcement professional with the skills and expertise to run the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, Anthony is a widely respected, solutions-oriented civic and community leader who is dedicated to improving people’s lives and ensuring their public safety. He’s thoughtful and pragmatic and exhibits both passion for the job and compassion for the residents he serves,” they wrote.

By Elizabeth Kratz

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