Maricopa County Sheriff part of the 2020 elections ballot, Joe Arpaio among four other Republican candidates

Sheriff+Paul+Penzone

Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

Sheriff Paul Penzone

Ivana Venema-Nunez , Reporter

For Arizona, the primary elections will occur on August 4, less than a month from now.   

Maricopa County Sheriff is among the public positions up for election on this year’s ballot.

As part of our commitment to helping our readers stay informed about local elections, we will feature an overview of the race for Sheriff in Maricopa County.

Paul Penzone is the incumbent Maricopa County Sheriff in this year’s race, he’s running for reelection on the Democratic ticket. 

According to ballotpedia.org, Penzone served as a police officer in Phoenix for 21 years. 

According to KJZZ’s piece on George Floyd, Sheriff Penzone stated that he ran for office to implement change in one of Arizona’s most troubled police agencies, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), and wants to put an end to this kind of police behavior.

Penzone defeated Joe Arpaio with a mandate to clean up the sheriff’s office, according to KJZZ. In the same piece, it is mentioned a federal judge previously ruled MCSO had systematically violated the rights of Latinos for years by racially profiling Hispanic drivers with proposition SB1070.

Penzone has also spoken out against the demands of protesters who want to defund the police department and use those tax revenues for housing programs, education and healthcare.

In an interview with KTAR, Penzone said that measures to defund the police departments would be counterproductive for both law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Penzone added that funding is necessary for proper training for community safety.

“You have to have men and women who are willing to pursue a profession like this and endanger their own lives to do so,” he said.

“You want to make sure those men and women are most deserving, that they’re trained correctly, that they have the resources and they have the staffing to accomplish that in the most effective way possible.”

According to another KTAR article, Penzone condemned the actions of Scottsdale city councilman Guy Phillips, when he used the words “I can’t breathe,” more than once, during an anti-mask protest.  Many felt he was mocking the words used by George Floyd before he died in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25.

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is running against Penzone as a Republican.  

Arpaio lost his re-election bid in the general election on November 8, 2016, according to ballotpedia.org after serving as Sheriff since 1992.

With his tough on crime and no-mercy law enforcement approach, he won four election cycles.  He also got his department federally investigated and disciplined for violating civil rights by routinely stopping Latino-looking drivers to check their citizenship status, according to an article Politico published on Sheriffs around the country.

In addition, he had a notably poor track record of investigating violent crimes, including more than 400 sex crimes.

When Arpaio lost his re-election he was convicted of criminal contempt for repeatedly refusing to abide by a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos, according to the article.

Arpaio was one of the first to endorse Trump in early 2016 and he was quickly pardoned by President Trump once in the Oval Office.

Jerry Sheridan is also running for Sheriff as a Republican, according to ballotpedia.org.

Sheridan worked with Arpaio as his Chief Deputy.  According to an article by AZ Central, Sheridan violated a policy requiring him to be truthful in his job when he claimed in court that he did not have any knowledge about a judge’s order that Arpaio had openly disobeyed for two years after it was issued.

Sheridan denied opening the emails from Arpaio’s attorney regarding the court order and said that he did not recall being at a meeting which another agency official claims he attended with Sheridan and other Arpaio aides to explain the order.

“Chief Deputy Sheridan’s testimony and statements regarding unopened emails, meetings he does not recall attending, ignorance of an issue that garnered front-page press reporting and public interest, and his unawareness of the preliminary injunction, is implausible,” the investigators wrote.

Sheridan states he is innocent.

According to ballotpedia.org, Mike Crawford is another candidate running against Penzone as a Republican. 

His experience working as a police officer in Arizona includes the Glendale Police Department and deputy sheriff with the San Juan County Sheriff’s office.  He has also served as a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Arizona Daily Independent News Network wrote an article about College Republicans United tweeting about Crawford’s past.

According to court documents, Crawford was involved in three separate Personal Orders of Protection filed by his now ex-wife.

The accusations are forced sodomy and two orders that severely restricted and later prohibited him communicating with his wife.

Crawford, in a podcast interview with the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC), who announced their endorsement for him, described himself stating, “…I actually follow the law and obey the law, and you have to do that in order to enforce the law, you can’t be a hypocrite.”

Ballotlotpedia.org shows that Lehland Burton is a write-in candidate for Sheriff and the fourth Republican opposing Penzone.

Although his only experience is working in armed security, he claims his priorities are digging deep into any instances of corruption or wrongdoing, he told the Daily Independent.

“We know there are good police officers out there, but it is the bad apples that cause the most harm,” he said. “I’m running to investigate each department here. Corruption is a snake. My job would be to see how many heads this snake has and sever each one for the people.”

Burton admits his lack of experience puts him at a disadvantage but he states he is doing this for the people and for the members of law enforcement who are still good but are forced to keep their heads down.