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Penzone handily re-elected as Maricopa County sheriff

Maricopa County voters overwhelmingly elected Sheriff Paul Penzone to a second term, rejecting a bid by one of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's executive officers.

Penzone, the incumbent and a Democrat, led by 16 percentage points over Jerry Sheridan, the Republican who spent decades working at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, with about 60% of ballots tallied. Sheridan retired from MCSO in 2016 after Penzone defeated Arpaio.

Penzone, a former Phoenix police officer, ran on a message that he has worked hard to shift MCSO away from the publicity antics and controversial policies that were the hallmarks of Arpaio's time as sheriff. Penzone closed down the infamous Tent City jail and ended the practice of holding people longer in jail to accommodate pick-up by immigration officials. However, an MCSO report from May found there is still racial bias in the way MCSO deputies conduct traffic stops.

Although he was one of Arpaio's top deputies, Sheridan sought to distance himself from his former boss, who he narrowly beat in the August primary. Sheridan asserted that, as second-in-command of MCSO, he was unaware of Arpaio's immigration operations that were found to violate the constitutional rights of Latinos. Sheridan also made national headlines during the campaign for demonstrating how he'd use "skunk water" as a crowd control tactic on large protests.

His campaign signs declared he will "stand up to the mobs."

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.


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Laura Gómez/Arizona Mirror

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone addresses the media Jan. 7, 2019.