Retired police officer Paul Penzone aspires to achieve on Nov. 6 something that nobody has done before - defeat controversial Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio at the polls - and for that he is seeking the Latino vote.
"It's time for a change. I feel that the forces of order represent something extraordinary in our society. The community should have confidence in our police officers and I think that is lacking in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office," the Democratic hopeful told Efe.
Penzone, who spent 21 years with the Phoenix police, criticized the work done by Arpaio, a Republican known for his hard line against undocumented immigration.
The MCSO is the only Arizona law enforcement agency to undertake workplace raids seeking undocumented workers, operations that Penzone called "ridiculous."
"I think the only purpose of these operations is to get the attention of the media. In no way is it fighting crime," he said.
Voter surveys show Arpaio with a lead of anywhere from four to 14 percentage points over Penzone.
Yet the Democratic candidate said that it is not "impossible" to defeat Arpaio, and he is convinced that he can do it with the support of Latino voters.
Several organizations in Maricopa County have combined forces to register new Hispanic voters, who are giving their backing to Penzone.
"I'm very grateful for their support," he said.
Penzone said that it is "regrettable" that there are children in the county who say that they are scared of MCSO deputies because they are afraid that their parents or other relatives will be deported.
He said that a law enforcement officer should be looked upon with pride in the community, as a person whom one can trust and call when there is an emergency.
"The sheriff has exploited the issue of undocumented immigration and has used resources that should have been used for public safety," Penzone emphasized. EFE