Paul Penzone, the newest challenger to longtime Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 20-year tenure, is likely to provide the biggest challenge that the 80-year old incumbent has seen in years. Penzone, 45, is a 21-year veteran Phoenix police officer and previous manager of the anonymous tip service Silent Witness. He has garnered support from a diverse group of officials and communities, including Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and local residents weary of Arpaio’s immigration sweeps and alleged racial profiling.
During a recent Phoenix event, Penzone noted that he would handle illegal immigration differently than his opponent, who is notorious for widespread immigration sweeps. “We can’t arrest ourselves out of the immigration issue,” said Penzone. Instead, he would focus on the criminal operations in human and drug trafficking. “We have only limited time and money; we have to choose between spending that time and money between dealing with criminal organizations or cooks and maids.”
Unlike Arpaio’s support, which his last campaign finance disclosure revealed overwhelmingly comes from out-of-state contributors, Penzone’s supporters almost always have Arizona addresses. He’s also amassed an impressive slate of supporters, including some prominent Republicans like former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and Paul Charlton, the former U. S. attorney.
During an August 3 press conference, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton endorsed Penzone, saying, “…based upon my personal experience working with Paul Penzone as a Phoenix Police officer, based upon his leadership of Silent Witness, I know he is the best candidate to bring the highest level of professionalism to the sheriff’s office.”