PATERSON, NJ - Democrat Richard Berdnik coasted to victory in the contest for Passaic County Sheriff, while the Democratic freeholders retained their seats.

Berdnik, a Clifton police officer, had 58 percent of the votes, compared to 42 percent for Republican Felix Garcia, with returns counted from 95 percent of the county's election districts. The margin at that point was 53,948-38,629.  The early returns from suburban districts had given Garcia a brief lead, but Berdnik quickly overtook him.

Paterson had been a bitter battleground in the sheriff's race. The two campaigns accused each other of dirty tricks, including a flier that accused Berdnik of racial profiling without any substantiation.

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Meanwhile, Democratic freeholder candidates Terry Duffy and Pat Lapore topped Republicans Tomas Gomez and Walter Garner III to continue their party's control over county government. With 95 percent of the district in, Duffy had 50,191 votes and Lapore 49,100. That put them comfortably ahead of Gomez, who had 38,405 votes and Garner with 38,321.

Former Paterson mayor Bill Pascrell Jr.'s margin of victory - 22,000 votes - was more than comfortable. He retained his seat in Congress by getting 63 percent of the votes compared to 35 percent for his challenger, Republican Roland Straten, a 69-year-old community activist from Montclair.

Pascrell, a Democrat, won his eighth term in Congress. He represents the 8th Congressional District.