The self-proclaimed toughest Sheriff in America, Joe Arpaio, was re-elected to serve his sixth, four-year term as Maricopa County Sheriff. The controversial Sheriff’s latest victory was not as easy as previous elections. This time he only captured 52% of the vote.
Support for the Sheriff has continued to decrease as a result of his tumultuous relationship with the growing Latino community. Under his leadership, the Sheriff’s department has gained national attention for harsh policies that immigrants and Latino rights advocates say discriminate against them. The New York Times often gives examples of the Sheriff’s discriminatory ways, which include a recent trial in which Arpaio had to defend himself over civil rights violations against Latinos.
Arpaio continues to deny the accusation, but last year the Justice Department released a report on its findings. In the report, it was made clear that the Sheriff’s department had arrested Latinos illegally and consequently failed to investigate sex crimes. The federal government also discovered and proved incidents of racial profiling, abuse of power, and unlawful enforcement of the law by Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies. As a result, the Department of Homeland Security revoked Arpaio’s office’s federal immigration enforcement powers.
Latino grassroots organizations have been successful in producing record numbers of registered Latinos voters in Arizona. These events have forced Sheriff Joe Arpaio to reevaluate his once successful methods of intimidating Latinos. He may begin to listen to them.
Shortly after Arpaio’s Democratic opponent, Paul Penzone, a former Phoenix Police Department Sergeant conceded defeat, CNN reported that Joe Arpaio gave an abnormal comment to all his supporters. He stated that he wants to sit down and talk to Latinos, the group he has notoriously profiled and discriminated against. Should Latinos be joyful?
I would not start jumping up and down just yet because right after Arpaio possibly showed a change of heart, he made it clear that his policies to enforce the law will be the same. In other words, nothing will change.
Controversy continues to loom over Arpaio after obtaining a mere 52% of the vote and being ahead by only 88,000 votes. According to Jeff Biggers, there are estimates that there are 150,000 to more than 400,000 uncounted votes left to process. This has led many Arizonans to question the election process. This has given Arpaio’s opponents hope that he can still be voted out of office. These uncounted ballots could potentially change the outcome of one of the highest profiled Sheriff’s races the nation has seen.