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Sheriff candidates hope to end Arpaio era

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio campaigning for re-election in November of 2012 when he ran against two former Valley police officers.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio campaigning for re-election in November of 2012 when he ran against two former Valley police officers.

Photo by Michael Arellano

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will be facing off against two former Valley police officers the in November election.

He will run against former Phoenix Police Sgt. Paul Penzone, who announced his candidacy three weeks ago, and former Scottsdale Police Lt. Mike Stauffer, who announced his run two years ago.

“Everywhere I go throughout Maricopa County now, I have people telling me that it’s time for a change,” Stauffer said. “They’re looking for the politics to be taken out of law enforcement in Maricopa County.”

Arpaio assumed office in January 1993, and his last re-election was in 2008.

Arpaio has faced criticism from Latino and anti-Arpaio advocacy groups. The Phoenix Human Relations Commission voted unanimously calling for Arpaio’s resignation Monday.

“It’s time for us to move forward — we can no longer stay this course with leadership failing us in that office,” Penzone said.

Secondary education junior Dalton Cyphers said regardless of the incumbent, it’s always good to have fresh faces in elected offices.

“Arpaio’s been in there for so long, he’s been such a figurehead,” Cyphers said.

Stauffer, 50, has worked in law enforcement for almost 30 years and has served in the Valley for 21 years. If elected, Stauffer said he plans to cut back command staff to increase accountability, which he says Arpaio lacks.

“I will never be the ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t recall’ (guy),” Stauffer said. “I need to know what’s happening in my office, especially when it comes to high-profile investigations and all the crime going on.”

Arpaio has raised almost $6 million for this year’s re-election campaign, the most he has ever collected for elections, according to his Political Committee Campaign Finance Report.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about the message and the quality of service that’s going to be provided,” Stauffer said.

Penzone, the 45-year-old Phoenix Police veteran, has worked in law enforcement for 21 years.

He said his experience in leadership, community work and dedication to fighting crime is what will help him get elected as sheriff.

“Crime affects all of us, and everyone is interested in seeing a change,” Penzone said.

Criminal justice and criminology senior Luis Romero said despite Arpaio’s legal bouts with the FBI and his tough stance on illegal immigration, the Republican nature of Arizona is the reason why Arpaio has been re-elected.

“Every time there’s an election for the sheriff’s office it’s always a big deal because he’s such a big face,” Romero said. “But I think it’s hard to beat an incumbent chair, especially in such a conservative area and county.”

Although Penzone is running as a Democrat and Stauffer as an Independent, both said their political stance does not affect how they will run or how they will operate as sheriff if either are elected.

“Public safety should never be about politics,” Penzone said. “Public safety is about serving the community their best interests by first and foremost keeping them safe.”

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