Sheriff Joe Arpaio Re-Elected
November 5, 2008 · Published By Student Journalist
Maricopa residents voted 55.5 percent in favor of electing Joe Arpaio to his fifth term as Maricopa County Sheriff Tuesday, with 144,284 votes over the Democratic candidate Dan Saban, with 1112 of 1142 precincts reporting.
Arpaio, 76, was first elected as Maricopa County Sheriff in 1993 and has served as head of the fourth-largest sheriff’s department in the nation for four terms since then. During his first year, he started the nation’s largest Tent City for convicted inmates, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s website. However, while Arpaio’s stance on topics such as immigration as gained him a high approval rating, other issues have also made him controversial among voters and the media.
“He’s done a lot of things that were good, some things that were not-so-good,” said Dorinda Thompson, 49, a first-time voter. “It’s time we do something to crack down on illegal aliens coming over, but I’m not so sure that some of his tactics and the results from the way he’s executed his decisions have been to his best interest.”
According to the Cronkite-Eight poll conducted in April 2008, 59 percent of Arizona residents approved of the job that Arpaio was doing as County Sheriff. Arpaio concentrated on issues voters believed to be the most serious; in a Cronkite-Eight poll taken in Nov 2007, 27 percent of voters agreed that illegal immigration was the most serious problem facing Maricopa County. Approximately 283,000 illegal immigrants live in Arizona, the second-largest per-capita after California, according to a US Citizenship and Immigration field study in 2000.
The sheriff’s detention officers have turned over 18,405 illegal immigrants to immigration authorities to date, after reviewing immigration status of booked inmates. However, not all voters were enthusiastic about the sheriff’s focus on immigration.
“I think he needs to spend less time on illegals and more time on crime,” said Matt Nelson, 23, a Phoenix banker who voted November 4. “I don’t know who the other guy running against him is, but I am sure he will do better.”
The latest controversy surrounding immigration and Arpaio involved the creation of a bill that would have required all police and sheriff’s departments in Arizona to join the federal immigration. Amnesty International cited the case in their briefing to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and said that such a measure might encourage racial profiling in immigrant communities, as well as harming the ability of police departments to investigate crime. Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed a bill in April.
“I just think it’s time for a change,” Thompson said. “I think if the same person stays there for too long they get complacent and they get filled with a sense that they have too much power.”
Arpaio calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” and voters have ensured the title will live on for another four years.
“I’ve only been living in Arizona for four years, but it’s funny because [Arpaio] has a reputation around the country,” said Shaker Bhise, a financial analyst. “I was from the Midwest and I heard about him there.”
Guest article contributed by Emily Chicoine, Jessica Parks, and Alyssa Aalmo
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication