In the loss column from the ballot box Tuesday is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. His 24-year tenure in Arizona will come to an end.
Democrat Paul Penzone, a former sergeant with the Phoenix Police Department, unseated Arpaio by nearly 10 percentage points. Penzone’s backers included billionaire George Soros, who donated more than $2 million to his campaign according to NPR.
Arpaio’s defeat comes after he rose to fame for his reputation as the toughest sheriff in America. His hard-line views on immigration and basic necessities for inmates have been his calling card. But the political landscape in Arizona shifted with his defeat.
“Arizona stands for something greater, no matter where we come from or what we look like, we are all entitled to respect,” Penzone said, according to member station KJZZ.
The defeat comes two weeks after Arpaio, 84, was charged with criminal contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order in a racial profiling case.
But among many of his constituents, Arpaio’s legal troubles were seen as an expensive distraction. In September, Maricopa County agreed to pay $4.5 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs in the case, which dates from 2007. That payment was added to some $10.4 million that had already been paid, as AZ Central reported.
Although he lost the election, the affection for him remains in tact from many. A sergeant who knew Arpaio said, “He loved and cared for his people. It’s as simple as that.”
Photo source: The Arizona Republic