Candidates in Maricopa County races

Here are the candidates running for offices in Maricopa County, presiding over all four ASU campuses

Several seats are up for election in Maricopa County on Nov. 3. Here are the races and the candidates running for those spots. 

Maricopa County Sheriff 

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone is facing re-election against challenger Jerry Sheridan in November.

The race could shape the future of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which oversees around 3,300 employees and houses four county jails in the fastest growing county in the nation.

Paul Penzone — Democrat


Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone at the 2017 National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Annual Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday, July 10, 2017.

Democratic incumbent Penzone grew up in Phoenix and studied criminal justice at Glendale Community College and NAU.

Penzone defeated controversial six-term incumbent Joe Arpaio in 2016, winning by over 10 percentage points.

According to his government website, Penzone has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement and public safety. Most of this time has been with the Phoenix Police Department, with seven years spent as part of the department's Silent Witness program.

Following his retirement from Phoenix PD, Penzone served as the vice president of Childhelp and owned a private security firm.

Since taking office, Penzone helped establish the MOSAIC program in Maricopa County. The seven-week program is aimed at reducing recidivism by helping inmates suffering from addiction, and currently located in the space that was once his predecessor's infamous Tent City

As sheriff, Penzone has created an internal auditing system to investigate crimes against children, and the Fugitive Apprehension Tactical Enforcement Unit to work with the FBI to find fugitives, according to his campaign website. 

Penzone has also helped create several advisory boards, according to his campaign website, including a Hispanic Advisory Board, African American Advisory Board and LGBTQ Advisory Board, aimed at improving relationships with the Maricopa County community.

If re-elected, Penzone's campaign website claims he will continue working to restore accountability and the public's trust. 

Jerry Sheridan — Republican

Former Maricopa County Chief Deputy Sheridan is the Republican nominee for Maricopa County sheriff. He attended the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Reserve Deputy Academy and graduated from the Phoenix Police Academy. He also holds a master's degree in organizational management and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. 

Sheridan has 40 years of experience in law enforcement, during which he has been a captain, chief of patrol and chief deputy for Arpaio from 2010 until 2016, retiring after Arpaio lost to Penzone.

In 2013, a federal judge found Arpaio to be in contempt of court after defying a court order aimed at stopping the sheriff's office from racial profiling. Sheridan was not criminally charged. 

Sheridan has tried to distance himself from his former boss, who he defeated in the primary election, saying in a recent debate, "I am not Joe Arpaio, I am Jerry Sheridan."

If elected, Sheridan's campaign website lists among his priorities bringing back Arpaio's Tent City "in some form," appointing an "aggressive" anti-drug detective team to southern Maricopa County and focusing on "being a partner with the community."

Sheridan's campaign also emphasizes his belief in protecting citizens' rights under the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions, specifically mentioning the First and Second Amendments.

Sheridan supports the Second Amendment and has said that while he believes in the right to peaceful assembly and protest, when an assembly becomes unlawful through violence or damage to property he will "disperse any unlawful assembly immediately before it gets out of hand and those in the assembly who refuse to leave will be arrested."

Both he and Penzone agree that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will remain active in Maricopa County jails.

Maricopa County Attorney

Republican incumbent County Attorney Allister Adel is facing Democratic challenger Julie Gunnigle in the general election, marking the first time voters in Maricopa County will elect a woman as county attorney. 

The county attorney acts as the chief county prosecutor and provides legal counsel to county officials. 

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed Adel in 2019 to replace Bill Montgomery, following Montgomery's appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Now, voters will decide the next county attorney to hold the position for the next four years.

Allister Adel — Republican


Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. Photo courtesy of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

Adel is the first woman to hold the position and is running as the incumbent in November. Before her appointment, Adel worked as the deputy county attorney at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for more than seven years. 

Adel's campaign website lists community education and resources as a priority in regards to addressing and reducing domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking.  

In regards to criminal justice reform, Adel's campaign mentions increased funding and resources to address addiction and mental illness. During her time as county attorney, Adel began a Felony Diversion Program to offer alternatives to criminal prosecution for those who qualify. 

Adel's campaign site says she supports reducing the spending of tax dollars, and improving transparency through mandatory body cameras for police officers and reforming the public records request process.

Adel has recently received pushback, after ruling she will not criminally charge Department of Public Safety Trooper George Cervantes in the killing of Dion Johnson. Cervantes was not wearing a body camera when he shot Johnson on May 25. Johnson's death led to protests throughout the Valley. 

Julie Gunnigle — Democrat


Maricopa County Attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle poses for a campaign photo on an unknown date.

Gunnigle was born and raised in Maricopa County. She graduated from the law school at the University of Notre Dame, served as the assistant state’s attorney in Cook County, Illinois, where according to her campaign website she prosecuted financial crimes and public corruption.  

Part of Gunnigle's campaign is to redistribute resources away from non-violent crimes to address underserved victims such as women, seniors, undocumented immigrants and BIPOC residents.

Gunnigle's platform also includes changes such as eliminating cash bail, private prisons and mandatory minimum sentencing. 

Gunnigle also believes in addressing systemic racism in the justice system by eliminating policies such as prosecution for low-level drug offenses and zero-tolerance policies, which disproportionately impact BIPOC communities.



Maricopa County Assessor

Republican incumbent Eddie Cook and Democrat Aaron Connor are facing off in the race for the next Maricopa County assessor in the general election. 

Cook was appointed in 2019 after his predecessor, Paul Peterson, resigned following charges of human trafficking and fraud tied to an alleged international adoption scheme.

The County Assessor’s Office is responsible for determining property values, which determines a homeowner’s property taxes.

Both candidates say they are running to restore public trust in the aftermath of the Peterson scandal. However, each nominee has their own way of accomplishing that goal.

Eddie Cook — Republican


Maricopa County Assessor Eddie Cook poses for a photo in 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. 

According to his campaign website, Cook graduated from ASU with a bachelor's in engineering and worked providing a cloud-based data service to Fortune 100 companies. Prior to being appointed as assessor, Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Cook to the Information Technology Authorization Committee, and he served as a member of the Gilbert Town Council for over nine years.

If elected, Cook is committed to improving the way the County Assessor's Office runs to be more efficient, according to his campaign. This includes updating the technology used by the office, which Cook claims will also improve the office's transparency. 



Aaron Connor — Democrat


Maricopa County Assessor candidate Aaron Connor poses for a campaign photo. 

Connor is the first Democratic candidate to run for county assessor since 1992. 

Connor's campaign website cites his experience in mortgage and technology as a skill set that would enable him to improve property owners' experience with county technology. 

In a video on his campaign website, Connor said he wants to ensure everyone is paying their fair share of property taxes to help fund educational resources in the county, and he also prioritizes increasing the transparency of the office. 


Maricopa County School Superintendent

Two candidates are running for the Maricopa County superintendent seat. The county school superintendent supports school board elections, school finance, bond and override elections and maintains home-school records, according to the office's website

Steve Watson — Republican


Maricopa County Superintendent Steve Watson poses for a portrait on an unspecified date in 2018. 

Incumbent Superintendent Steve Watson was elected in 2017. Watson graduated from UA with a bachelor's in Spanish and received a master’s degree in education from the University of Alabama. 

Since taking office, Watson helped establish the STEM Resource Center, a partnership between Amazon and the Maricopa County Superintendent’s Office that offers free resources to teachers in Maricopa County. 

Watson is also prioritizing educational resources in detention facilities, funding initiatives and elevating the perception of the teaching profession. 



Jeanne Casteen — Democrat


Maricopa County Superintendent candidate Jeanne Casteen poses for a portrait in March, 2020 in Arizona's 24th Legislative District.

Jeanne Casteen is an ASU alumna with a bachelor's degree in human communication and history. She also has a master’s in secondary education, according to her campaign website.  

Casteen currently serves as the president of the Creighton School District Governing Board. 

Her campaign website includes three priorities: providing quality education regardless of a student's socioeconomic status, increasing educational resources for students and providing educators with the "wages their professions are due."


Maricopa County Treasurer 

Voters will elect a new county treasurer on Nov. 3, after the incumbent treasurer was defeated in the August primaries. 

Republican nominee Rep. John Allen beat current Treasurer Royce Flora in the primary election and will face Democrat Daniel Toporek in the general election. 

The treasurer is responsible for collecting property and county taxes and dispersing the county's tax revenue. 

John Allen — Republican


Rep. John Allen, a candidate for Maricopa County treasurer, poses for a government portrait. 

Allen is an ASU alumnus with a bachelor's degree in business.

In 2002, Allen was elected into the State Legislature and served 11 years in the House of Representatives. During that time, Allen served as chairman of four committees and was the Republican majority leader in 2017 and 2018. 

Allen's campaign website says the current Maricopa Treasurer's Office is being "run poorly and needs new leadership." If elected, Allen says he will fulfill the job of treasurer and, unlike current treasurer Kimberly Yee, "keep my focus on those things alone."




Daniel Toporek — Democrat


Maricopa County Treasurer candidate Daniel Toporek poses for a photo in September, 2019 near the Scottsdale Civic Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

This is the first time Toporek has run for a public office. 

Prior to this election, Toporek served 34 years as a Marine and Army attack pilot. 

According to his campaign website, his management experience is rooted in his time in the military, during which he oversaw a $150 million budget for the training of thousands of aviation pilots.

If elected, Toporek claims he will work to restore public trust and transparency in the treasurer's office. 



Maricopa County Recorder

Republican nominee Stephen Richer is looking to unseat Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes. 

Fontes has already gotten in legal battles over his efforts to make mail-in voting more widely available during the election amid the COVID-19 pandemic by sending ballots to every registered voter. 

A Superior Court judge blocked the move, signing a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction filed by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

The recorder office is responsible for voter registration, sending ballots and maintaining the county’s recorded documents, a role the Republican candidate Richer says should be non-partisan. 

Adrian Fontes — Democrat


Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes poses for a photo in 2018.  

Incumbent Maricopa County Recorder Fontes was first elected in 2016 and has advocated for simplifying the voting process. Prior to running for office, Fontes received his bachelor’s degree from ASU and graduated from law school at the University of Denver, after serving in the Marines.

In his 2020 campaign, Fontes is again pledging to voters if re-elected, he will continue to improve the voter's experience through digital platforms and increased outreach while maintaining security and transparency in the office. 

If re-elected, Fontes' campaign said he will strive to ensure Arizona does not "backslide into the old days of voter suppression."




Maricopa County Recorder candidate Stephen Richer poses with a campaign sign.

Stephen Richer — Republican

Republican candidate Richer is running to make the Recorder's Office "boring again," according to his campaign website. 

Richer has criticized Fontes’ political management of the office on his campaign website, and believes the county recorder should not take partisan positions in office.

If elected, Richer wants to establish an oversight board, consisting of leaders from all parties to ensure non-partisanship in the Recorder’s Office, while furthering transparency and accountability in the office. 


Reach the reporter at kpirehpo@asu.edu and follow @kevinpirehpour on Twitter. 

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