Arizona’s Arpaio tries to become suburban mayor after failing

Former Phoenix Metro Sheriff Joe Arpaio, 90, who was ousted by voters over headline-grabbing tactics and legal issues, is trying to make another political comeback, campaigning against the wealthy where he lived for more than two years. Suburban mayors for decades.

Arpaio’s stakes in Tuesday’s election are far lower than when he was the top law enforcement officer for 4 million people when he was six-term sheriff of Maricopa County.

Now he’s trying to oust Ginny Dickey, the two-term Democratic mayor of Fountain Hills, a mostly Republican community of about 24,000 on the edge of Phoenix.

“My secret weapon has always been: reaching out to people,” Arpaio said. “You sure need that to get elected in a small town.”

Dickey said when she first learned that Arpaio was running against her, she wasn’t sure how his candidacy would affect the game. She eventually concluded that, aside from his fundraising advantage and notoriety, that hasn’t changed much, and that she hasn’t changed her campaign.

“I believe my running style is the same as always,” Dickey said.

Arpaio, who has been in office for nearly six years, admits he has had a harder time delivering his political message. But Arpaio rejected criticism that he should stay away from public life.

“I am still in good health and I will continue to fight for the needs of the people,” Arpaio said. “It’s probably a cliché. What else is there?”

Arpaio was defeated by Democratic challengers in 2016 after 24 years as sheriff and was found guilty of criminal contempt the following year for violating a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols targeting immigrants, though he was later pardoned by then-President Donald Trump trump card.

Arpaio then won the third-place U.S. Senate seat in the 2018 Republican primary and second in the 2020 Republican primary to win the sheriff’s job.

In both attempts, Arpaio lost the vote in Fountain Hills.

Like Arpaio, Dickey is a longtime member of the community. She has served on the school board and on the Fountain Hills Town Council.

Arpaio, a skilled political fundraiser, spent more than $12 million on the 2016 sheriff’s race and $161,000 on the mayoral race — six times what Dickey spent.

Before the federal government and courts stripped him of his immigration powers, Arpaio led 20 mass traffic patrols targeting immigrants and more than 80 commercial raids to crack down on people working in the United States without permission.

While his defiant behavior has performed well with voters over the years, Arpaio has faced harsh criticism for adopting policies he knows are controversial and amassing $147 million in taxpayer-funded legal bills.

Although he bills himself as the toughest sheriff in America, his agency has investigated more than 400 sex crime complaints filed with his office.

Arpaio said he wasn’t worried about his past haunting him in the mayoral race.

“Except for 2016, all this baggage is no different. But I had baggage in 2012 — big baggage,” Arpaio said. “And I got re-elected.”

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