PHOENIX — The former top aide to ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he will challenge incumbent Paul Penzone in Maricopa County's 2020 sheriff's race.
Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio's second-in-command in his last six years in office, said Tuesday that his 38 years with the sheriff's office give him the experience needed for leading the agency.
Sheridan said he doesn't worry that his association with Arpaio or his own legal problems will hurt his election chances.
Before Sheridan's retirement in late 2016, he and Arpaio faced heavy criticism in a lawsuit in which sheriff's deputies were found to have racially profiled Latinos in traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.
Sheridan and Arpaio were found to be in civil contempt for disobeying a 2011 court order to stop the patrols and botching an effort to gather traffic-stop videos that were supposed to be turned over but were withheld in the profiling case. Arpaio was later convicted of criminal contempt for disobeying the court order, but a pardon by President Donald Trump spared him a possible jail sentence.
The board that certifies police officers in Arizona also is considering whether to launch a disciplinary case against Sheridan for his conduct in the profiling case. If he were to lose his police certification, he could still run for sheriff, because the certification board's rules don't apply to sheriffs.
Despite the criticism in the profiling case, Sheridan said he was treated unfairly in court and that he worked to comply with an overhaul of the agency that was ordered in response to the profiling verdict.
Penzone, who is running for re-election, said in a statement that he has worked in his two years as sheriff to balance the agency's budget, get fugitives off the streets, comply with court orders and reduce the number of lawsuits that the agency regularly drew under Arpaio's controversial leadership.
Sheridan is a Republican, while Penzone is a Democrat.