He's called “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but critics say when it comes to debates, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio needs to toughen up.
In the 12 years and three elections since he has taken office, Arpaio has not once partaken in an open forum debate. This year, in his re-election campaign for Maricopa sheriff, Arpaio vows to continue his vow of debate silence.
On Monday night, his campaign issued a statement to the media saying “The voters of Maricopa County know the sheriff and what he stands for. His policies have been in place for 20 years.”
Adding, “They’ve elected him and re-elected him 5 times now. The other candidates in the sheriff’s race can debate each other…”
Arpaio has gained notoriety throughout the country for his controversial policies toward undocumented immigrants and his enforcement of Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 law.
In interviews with the local NBC affiliate, Arpaio’s opponents, as well as former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator John McCain, criticized the decision.
Arpaio’s biggest competition, Democrat Paul Penzone, says the community deserves to have all the candidates address the issues head to head.
“He owes it to this community to not pass messaging through controlled commercials where he can state things under his terms,” Penzone said in an interview with 12 News.
“It’s time he had the courage to stand in front of this community and answer to a competitor.”
One of Arpaio’s loudest critics has been Republican senator John McCain.
McCain says its unheard of for a candidate of this level not to take part in a debate, “the people deserve a debate.”
“This sheriff considers himself somewhat unique," McCain said. "I don’t think he is.”