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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Ousted By Paul Penzone

By Jude Joffe-Block, Stina Sieg
Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - 6:52pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 1:11am
(Photo by Jude Joffe-Block - KJZZ)
Paul Penzone is a former Phoenix police sergeant.
Mark Moran/KJZZ
Joe Arpaio

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his controversial immigration enforcement policies, has lost re-election. The Arizona sheriff was defeated after 24 years in office.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Republican, is a prominent ally of Donald Trump. Just as early voting began, he was charged with criminal contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge's orders in a long-standing racial profiling case. Paul Penzone, a former police sergeant, defeated Arpaio.

It’s the end of an era, but at the Republican watch party in Phoenix, hardly anyone seemed to notice.

Arpaio did not appear before the excited crowd at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, and his name was never mentioned by the speakers on stage. Many people in the audience didn’t know he’d lost the election, even hours after the race had been called.

Debbie Gipson was one of them, though she said she was not surprised. Every office should have term limits, she said, sheriff included.

"You should be there to serve the public. Come in, do a job, try to make things better, and then once you’ve done what you’re supposed to do, hand it over to someone else. And I think, really, Arpaio has long passed that time," Gipson said.

Gipson called herself a lifelong Republican — but said she couldn’t bring herself to vote for Arpaio again, and added that many others must have felt the same.

Penzone's Democratic supporters chanted "new sheriff in town" as he promised to bring change to the office.

"Arizona stands for something greater, no matter where we come from or what we look like, we are all entitled to respect," said Penzone.

Arpaio, who is 84, raised a stunning $12.7 million for the race, though liberal billionaire George Soros donated more than $2 million to his opponent.