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Joe Arpaio Runs For Another Term As Maricopa County Sheriff

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, has launched a campaign to get his old job back. Arpaio, who describes himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff”, gained international attention for setting up an outdoor tent-city jail in Phoenix and for his controversial immigration patrols. He was convicted of contempt of court and then was pardoned by President Trump. Now, a new book is in the works about Arpaio and his impact on immigration in Arizona. It’s being co-written by former public radio reporter Jude Joffe-Block. KNAU’s Steve Shadley spoke with her about the project…

Jude Joffe-Block

Shadley: “Hi, Jude thanks for joining us.”

Joffe-Block: “Hi, Steve…thanks for having me.”

Shadley: “So, Jude based on the research for your new book, why do you think Arpaio has launched this reelection campaign?”

Joffe-Block: “Well, you know, Joe Arpaio feels like the system has treated him unfairly. He feels like in 2016 that he should have won reelection but because he was being prosecuted for criminal contempt of court that that was something that impacted the election and he feels like that he has support from people. I guess people are coming up to him and telling him that he has support. He’ll often say the he never felt as much support as he does now. I have no way to judge whether that’s true…but, we do know he came in third in the Arizona primary for the senate race two years ago. We also know that Joe Arpaio has more than $460,000 left over from his 2016 run that he’s transferred to his current run. So, starting this election just from day one…he has a pretty impressive war chest heading into this campaign. I mean that’s a lot of money for a county race. He raised $13-million in 2016 and its because he has a national fan base.”

Shadley: “Now, Arpaio’s early platform is that he wants to bring back those outdoor tent cities and he wants to revisit the immigration patrols that led to a court case, conviction and pardon. So, do you think anything has changed in the minds of voters since then?”

Joffe-Block: “Well, it’s a really interesting question. How much has Arizona changed since the height of Arpaio’s popularity. I mean, we’re not seeing any more of the focus on illegal immigration from state and local politicians the way we did ten years ago when we think what the discourse was like in the state a decade ago. It’s quite different. So, the question is: have Arizonans and Maricopa County residents moved on? Are they ready to stick with a different sheriff? What’s interesting in this race is that there’s currently an incumbent, Paul Penzone, who’s a Democrat. But, Jerry Sheridan, who was Arpaio’s chief deputy, is also running in the Republican primary, and had actually declared months ago back in February, he had entered the race and at that time it seemed he had Arpaio’s blessing to do that and now the two are competing for that Republican nomination along with some other candidates who are also in the primaries as well.”

Shadley: “So, what will Joe Arpaio’s legacy be…looking forward from here? What will people remember him for internationally as well as across the country and right here in Arizona?”

Joffe-Block: “Yeah, I think its important to remember how famous he really is even outside of Arizona. You know, all of the international profiles that have been done over the years and he’s been on television in other countries and people all over the country have sent in donations to him in the past when he’s run for sheriff. And, it will be interesting to see if that trend continues. That national fundraising that he’s been able to get in the past. I think his legacy is really going to be a mixed one. There are going to be people who are going to remember him as a rock star. I mean there are people who he’s beloved by. But, there’s also people who really see him as a villain or somebody who violated Latino rights because he’s separated families so its really a mixed legacy that he has depending on who you ask.”

Shadley: “Thank you.”

Joffe-Block: “Thank you.”

Shadley:  That was Jude Joffe-Block a former public radio reporter who’s now co-authoring a book with Terry Greene Sterling about Joe Arpaio and his impact on immigration in Arizona.

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