Arpaio refuses to debate rival candidates - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Arpaio refuses to debate rival candidates

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PHOENIX -

The race for Maricopa County Sheriff looks like it may be one of the closest we've seen in nearly 20 years. There are new calls from Sheriff Arpaio opponents to participate in a debate. Will the sheriff agree?

The sheriff says no. He is not going to debate. When asked about it today, he stopped taking questions.

While accepting an endorsement from the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association Tuesday, the sheriff brushed off the calls for a debate.

"I have been around 20 years, I think people know who their sheriff is," Arpaio told us.

But, for a politician who is so well known, the sheriff's campaign has spent a lot of money on slick TV ads that appear to be re-introducing him.

Ad voiceover: "It is time you met the real Joe Arpaio… Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a tough sheriff with a soft spot."

The sheriff is running against Independent Mike Stauffer and Democrat Paul Penzone. Arpaio says they can have their own debate.

"I'm sure they will have fun debating themselves. Everybody knows who I am. And I am not concerned. The debate that I have is at the voting booth that is where they will decide who will be the next sheriff."

When asked repeatedly about a debate Arpaio said, "I'm not going to answer any more questions." He ended the interview.

Paul Penzone, the sheriff's leading opponent, says Arpaio shouldn't be so confident.

"He recognizes that this race is so close and that he is likely to be unseated this year, that he is not likely to go into a room where he has to answer to things against someone else who knows law enforcement better than he does," said Penzone.

Penzone is a former Phoenix Police sergeant and is quick to point out his endorsement from the Phoenix Lieutenant and Sergeants Association.

"At the end of the day you can't talk tough if you are not willing to stand up and take on the fights relative to why you should be able to keep your job."

Penzone says there have been many invitations to debate from community groups and the media. It's been 12 years since the sheriff's last debate.

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