Incumbent Paul Penzone holds lead over former chief deputy Jerry Sheridan in Maricopa County sheriff's race
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone had a commanding lead over Republican opponent, Jerry Sheridan, in the latest count of votes on Wednesday.
Still, Penzone has not declared victory and Sheridan has not conceded.
Penzone's campaign spokesperson said on Wednesday that they are optimistic but will wait until the race is officially decided in his favor to make a statement.
Sheridan said Tuesday he did not plan to concede until all the votes were counted.
On Wednesday, he said he is still waiting on the final results.
"It is not over until all votes are counted," he said.
So far, 1.6 million ballots have been counted. Penzone was ahead by 14 percentage points before additional results were to be released late Wednesday.
Sheridan who worked for the Sheriff's Office for 38 years, retiring as a deputy chief. He defeated Arpaio, his former boss, in the Republican primary in August.
In 2016, Penzone defeated longtimeSheriff Joe Arpaio.
Penzone positioned himself as the sheriff who restored integrity to the office and focused it on public safety, rather than the spectacles for which Arpaio was known.
Sheridan pitched himself as a law-and-order candidate who says he will go up against the mob, referring to protesters demanding to put a stop to police violence.
He has said he would raise morale again among deputies and detention offices.
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The two candidates have different points of view on most matters except immigration. Both believe that immigration officials should be allowed in county jails to question pre-trial inmates about their status.
The Sheriff's Office can't enforce immigration laws because a 2013 federal court order found that deputies violated the civil rights of Hispanic motorists during Arpaio's so-called crime sweeps that targeted majority-Latino neighborhoods.
Penzone has had to oversee the implementation of court-mandated reforms. He has said that under his watch, the Sheriff's Office has implemented those reforms at a higher rate than under Arpaio.
Still, issues linger.
Earlier this year, an audit of traffic stops found Hispanic and Black drivers were more likely to be held longer or searched by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies than white drivers.
"I'm highly concerned about it, and we're a work in progress. Any numbers are unacceptable numbers — there's disparate treatment," Penzone said in a debate with Sheridan in October.
The Associated Press reported in August that there is a backlog of 1,800 internal affairs cases taking an average of more than 400 days to complete. Such investigations should take 60 to 85 days to complete.
Penzone has laid out a choice for voters: to continue with the change in culture and the progress he has made or go back to Arpaio's era by electing Sheridan
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Sheridan distanced himself from Arpaio throughout his campaign.
"I know the media loves to hang me with that," he said in the October debate. "I am not Joe Arpaio, I am Jerry Sheridan. I will run the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office the way I will finally be able to."
Critics scrutinized Sheridan's history during his time at the Sheriff's Office. They say he helped foster a culture of nepotism.
Sheridan had said he wanted to focus on drug and sex trafficking crimes, while also prioritizing animal cruelty crimes. He also thinks he would do a better job at handling COVID-19 in the jails by isolating inmates with the virus from the general population.
Penzone's campaign has said the Sheriff's Office has isolated inamtes with the virus an
He most recently said on Facebook that he would like deputies who learned Spanish later in life to practice the language with native speakers during ride-alongs.
He said this will help deputies retain their Spanish-language skills and will help them communicate with Spanish speakers during traffic stops. Sheridan this could help reduce the higher rate of time during traffic stops among Hispanic motorists.
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