Cureton -- the Bergen County Democratic Committee's selection -- retired as a detective sergeant from the Englewood Police Department in 2014 and heads the Bergen County chapter of the NAACP.
He will replace former Sheriff Michael Saudino, who resigned in disgrace on Sept. 21 following publication of secretly recorded racist and homophobic remarks that drew fire all the way up to the governor's office.
Saudino wasn't scheduled to run again until next fall, his resignation ignited furious political activity in the county -- with the names of well over a dozen would-be successors raised by party bosses and elected officials of various stripes and stations.
Cureton was the top vote-getter of five candidates, all of whom brought law extensive law enforcement experience. Finishing behind him were:
John "Jack" DeLorenzo, selected by the Bergen County Republican Organization, earned 38.23 percent of votes (90,509). DeLorenzo is the Hasbrouck Heights mayor and a U.S. Army veteran. He was an M.P., served three terms on the borough's Board of Education and retired as a detective captain in the borough police department after 25 years of service.
Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert J Kugler, who ran as an Independent and operates a local funeral home, got 4.31 percent of votes (10,204).
Independent Robert P. Tormo, a retired U.S. Marine and former New Jersey State Police lieutenant, received 4.02 percent of votes (9,509). Although this was his first bid for elected office, Tormo is well-known in the county and has helped train local departments and implement programs.
Independent James M. Ahearn received 1.13 percent of votes (2,674). A retired Rutherford police sergeant with 25 years of experience and U.S. Marine, Ahearn was president of the PBA while working toward his law degree. He also served as a volunteer EMT.
Cureton takes control of the county's largest law enforcement organization, with more than 600 employees and responsibility for a variety of services, including operating the county jail, handling transports and security at the county courthouse and assisting the county's 68 municipal police departments with collecting and processing evidence through its Bureau of Criminal Identification.
The sheriff's office also has a bomb squad and crisis negotiators, serves various court orders and protects county roads, parks and critical infrastructure.
It also is responsible for housing detainees awaiting hearings on charges of illegally entering the country -- a hot-button issue that has affected county sheriffs statewide.Kugler recently filed a lawsuit against the county clerk claiming that the sheriff's election should be ruled invalid. Since Saudino resigned within 37 days of Tuesday's election, Gov. Phil Murphy should have filled the position, the suit contends.
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