Jan 22, 2024 - News

Maricopa County supervisors have 8 candidates for sheriff appointment

A man in a beige law enforcement uniform speaks in front of a large emblem that says Maricopa.

Former Sheriff Paul Penzone in 2022. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Friday's deadline to apply to become Maricopa County's next sheriff has passed, and the Board of Supervisors now must appoint an applicant.

Catch up quick: Sheriff Paul Penzone announced in October that he'd resign before the end of his term, and he stepped down on Jan. 12, triggering an appointment process.

Driving the news: Eight people applied for the position.

  • Russell Skinner, who served as chief deputy under Penzone for six years and is running the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) until the supervisors appoint a new sheriff.
  • Scott Meyer, a sergeant at MCSO who started with the agency in 2016 as a detention officer.
  • Brandon Otis, a correctional officer with the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Re-entry.
  • Patrick Valenzuela, a lieutenant at the Glendale Police Department who's been with the agency since 1996.
  • Kenneth Booker, a retired deputy chief at MCSO who previously served as interim police chief in Youngtown.
  • Jeffrey Kirkham, a 38-year law enforcement veteran who most recently served as a police commander in Apache Junction and was police chief in Nogales.
  • Grant Harrison, a project management assistant at the City of Phoenix's Office of Homeless Solutions, who has no law enforcement experience.
  • Dan Saban, a former Buckeye police chief and Mesa Police Department commander who ran three times for sheriff.

The intrigue: Booker, Kirkham and Skinner were registered to vote as Republicans for many years, but they re-registered as Democrats shortly before applying for the vacancy, the Arizona Republic reported.

  • Saban ran unsuccessfully against Arpaio as a Republican in 2004 and 2016, and as a Democrat in 2008.
  • State law requires vacancy appointments be filled by someone of the same party as the elected official, so supervisors must appoint a Democrat.
  • No Democrats have filed statements of interest to run for the seat.

The other side: Three Republicans have filed statements of interest to run for sheriff this year: Frank "Mike" Crawford, Joel Ellis and Jerry Sheridan.

  • Sheridan served as deputy chief at MCSO under former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Sheridan was the GOP nominee who lost to Penzone in 2020.
  • Crawford is a former Glendale police officer who ran in 2020, losing to Sheridan in the Republican primary.

Of note: Unless he changes plans to run for Fountain Hills mayor, this will be the first sheriff's race since 1988 in which Arpaio isn't on the ballot.

  • Arpaio won the seat in 1992 and was re-elected five times before losing to Penzone. He ran for his old job in 2020, losing in the Republican primary to Sheridan.
  • He also ran losing campaigns for U.S. Senate in 2018 and Fountain Hills mayor in 2022.

What's next: Supervisors will determine the process for selecting a new sheriff sometime this week, county spokesperson Fields Moseley tells Axios Phoenix.

  • They could simply choose from the full pool of applicants or appoint a screening committee to vet the candidates and narrow the field, as they did in 2019 to appoint a new county attorney.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Dan Saban is seeking the appointment for Maricopa County supervisor.

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