Want to get rid of the crazy? Then start investing in the sane.

Arizona certainly doesn’t lack for crazy ideas led by equally zany lawmakers. From politicians working to further the ‘birther’ conspiracy to legislators redefining conception to two weeks prior to ovulation, we’ve got more than enough material to keep comedians like Jon Stewart in business.

But instead of shaking our heads or shrugging our shoulders over the ridiculousness of certain legislation or politicians, we should be taking an active role in ridding the state of these embarrassments by investing in those who can turn things around.

Believe it or not, we do have individuals who are more than capable of governing with intelligence and without corruption. But if we want these individuals to take over, we need to be willing to back them with our words, our time and yes, our money.

In the race for Maricopa County Sheriff, we have a candidate who has the credentials and the fortitude to take on Joe Arpaio and turn MCSO into a department we can all be proud of. But if we really want Joe Arpaio out of office (and seriously, how can we not want that?), we must band together behind ONE candidate with as many resources as possible.

I had the chance to speak with Scottsdale Police Lt. Mike Stauffer, and I can honestly say, I have nothing but respect for him and his character. However, his chances of beating Arpaio are incredibly low for one key reason. He’s running as an Independent in a race against a multi-million dollar incumbent. Without the backing of a party, national and even state fundraising is nearly impossible and certainly not at the levels needed to take on Arpaio’s war chest.

Though I wish money were not an important factor in elections, it is, and we cannot fool ourselves into thinking it does not matter in this race. For the good of the cause, for the good of Maricopa County residents, Lt. Stauffer should pull out of the race and endorse Paul Penzone.

Much has been said about the newcomer and Democratic challenger, John Rowan. And though I have not had a chance to meet Mr. Rowan, I do know that the party has thrown its support behind Paul Penzone because they believe Paul has the support staff, the credentials and yes, the money, to beat Joe Arpaio.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Don Bivens dropped out when it became apparent that Dr. Richard Carmona had the momentum behind him. He didn’t drop out because he couldn’t win the primary. He didn’t drop out because Carmona had better ideas or even better qualifications. He dropped out because it became clear that in a general election, Carmona had the edge, and this race was too important for Democrats to lose because of ego or infighting. John Rowan should follow Don Bivens’ lead and do the same.

I have supported Paul Penzone in this race first and foremost because I believe he has the ability to bring integrity back to the Sheriff’s office. We need a Sheriff who believes in the rule of law but also believes all residents, regardless of skin color or status, deserve to be protected. Community policing standards dictate that every crime victim has the right to assistance, and all victims should feel comfortable and safe when reporting crimes. Paul wants to put the department’s focus, and its resources, into protecting residents and lowering crime rates versus inflating his ego and doing whatever necessary to score media attention.

But beyond Paul’s credentials and his motives is his ability to win. It’s true that beating Arpaio will require a perfect storm. That storm includes vulnerability by the incumbent, which we have, and a challenger who has the funding and the backing of a host of individuals and organizations willing to go out on a limb for their candidate.

I’m going out on that limb knowing it’s a risk, knowing I will take a great deal of heat for asking two candidates to drop out of the race. But I’m not the only one. The Democratic Party is going out on a limb. Prominent Republicans such as former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton have gone out on that limb. Organizations such as Citizens for a Better Arizona have gone out on that limb.

Now, we need you. We need lots of you to go out on a limb with both your time and your resources. Jon Stewart called Arizona the “meth lab of democracy.” But it doesn’t need to be. We can turn it around, but it starts with a willingness to take a stand and gather the resources needed to put the right candidates, the sane candidates, in office.


  1. David Lucier

    Thanks, Julie, for your voice of reason and insight.

    Arizona can and does have the capacity to “get rid of the crazies”, but only if we, as “noncrazies” pool our resources and get people to vote…vote intelligently and vote rationally.

    We need people like Paul Penzone and Dr. Carmona, and good candidates for the State legislature who will vote FOR good education, job creation, and health and wellness.

    It starts with the people WE put into office and keep in office…people who represent us, not a fundamentalist ideology.

  2. Mike Slater

    Sorry Julie but you Democrats don’t have the votes. Joe will be reelected.

    David, I suppose by “noncrazies” you mean anyone that will vote like you, in other words vote Democrat.

    1. Post
      Julie Erfle

      Mike, Arapio’s approval ratings are at the lowest levels to date, below 50%. And I’m not sure why anyone, Democrat or Republican, would vote for him, especially if the person considers himself/herself a fiscal conservative. There’s nothing conservative about losing over $150 million dollars and counting.

    2. David Lucier

      Voting is one thing…and I respect those who do vote intelligently.

      What I don’t agree with is the blatant, unconstitutional acts and legislation that are passed by ideologues and extreme fundamentalists, as well as unethical and illegal behavior, by elected officials in the “name of the law”.

      Tens of millions of dollars in multiple laws suits ought to be what many law enforcement agencies deem a “clue” as to how the MCSO is being operated…”Hello…McFly!”

      The pledge says, in part, “…and liberty and justice for all.”

  3. Mike Slater

    Julie, I think the reason you and other Democrats don’t like Joe is the fact he goes after illegals.

    1. Post
      Julie Erfle

      Mike, I don’t have a problem with you disagreeing with my articles, but it seems pretty clear that you don’t wish to have a discussion on the topics but rather just say flippant things to try and rile up angry responses. If Joe wants to “go after illegals,” he should start by arresting himself. His blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution makes him the most “illegal” person I know.

  4. A Corine

    Thanks for your continued courage to speak out and bring about change in Maricopa County. I visit your website often and have even had an opportunity to hear you speak. I do, however, find this posting very disheartening and sad.

    For ONCE, wouldn’t it be amazing for the voters of Maricopa County to elect a sheriff based on qualifications instead of political affiliation and money. Based on the information that has been made available of Penzone and his experience, he was a sergeant that spent most of his time in front of a camera. Not a whole lot of administrative and leadership experience. It’s still unclear why he decided to switch party affiliation and throw his hat in the race for sheriff in Jan 2012, less than 30 days before the filing deadline. Your support of a candidate strictly because he has the backing of the Democratic party and access to money, is disappointing. He may have the backing of a political party, but does not have the experience necessary to clean up the mess that Joe has left behind.

    Stauffer has been campaigning for over 2 1/2 years, has organizational management and strategic planning experience, and has published his mission and one year plan on his website. Through his FB page and website, he is sharing with the people of Maricopa County his plans to fix the problems at hand. Penzone has shared no specific information that demonstrates that he has the experience to get the job done. I stopped following Penzone on Twitter because it infuriated me that he tweeted more about his bee hive, golf outings, galas, fundraisers and trips to DC than sharing his thoughts on his qualifications and why we should vote for him. I wanted him to be a serious candidate and got nothing. Even his FB ‘town hall meeting’ was frustrating because he took questions from people but then someone else answered them hours later. In a recent interview he was asked what would he do on ‘day 1’ if elected and he responded ‘come up with a plan’. I’d rather put my support and money behind someone who already has a plan.

    As a resident of Maricopa County for over 25 years, I’m tired of party politics and am committed to supporting the best qualified candidate to clean up the corruption and restore dignity and faith in MCSO, not the one who has the most money. I wouldn’t hire a lesser qualified employee because he has more money, why would I support a candidate for sheriff that I didn’t think could get the job done?

    There are more people registered as Independent/No Party Preference in Maricopa County than Democrat. I think people are finally starting to see through the party line games are ready for a change. As voters it is our responsibility to research the best qualified candidate and cast our vote accordingly. It is disappointing that you are not encouraging people to do the same instead of blindly supporting a candidate because he has party backing and access to money.

    1. Post
      Julie Erfle

      I respect that you disagree with my opinion, however, I’d like to clarify a couple of things. First, I’m not supporting Paul Penzone simply because he’s with the Democratic party (not important to me & is somewhat of a disadvantage in a Republican-leaning county) or because he’s spent time in front of a camera (again, not important). He does have management experience, and I don’t believe it’s fair to categorize his work with Silent Witness as simply someone who put his face in a camera. Silent Witness is a valuable program and managing it involves much more than talking to the media. And Paul didn’t just work for Phoenix P.D., he was also the C.O.O. at NotMyKid and worked with ChildHelp. As for switching party affiliation… isn’t that what Mike Stauffer did as well? Didn’t he switch from Republican to Independent because he didn’t believe he could beat Arpaio in a primary?

      Party affiliation was not part of my deciding factor when determining who I thought had the best qualifications. Shortly after Paul announced his candidacy, there was talk that a well-known Republican, who I greatly respect, was considering running. Had he run, he would have had my endorsement. But beyond party affiliation and the ability to raise funds, I still believe Paul is the best candidate. He does have a plan to clean up MCSO, but he’s also being honest when he says it won’t happen overnight. Arpaio has been in office 20 years. He has created a toxic atmosphere within the department, and it will take time to change the attitudes and leadership that have created this mess. In speaking with Paul, I do not think he is fooling himself about how difficult this job will be nor do I believe that he is going in without a plan.

      While I respect Mike Stauffer and believe he has similar credentials to Paul, I do not believe he is the better candidate. I chose to speak out in favor of Mr. Penzone because this race is so crucial to the residents of Maricopa County and this state. I have been sickened by the corruption and civil rights abuses happening under Arpaio’s watch. I sense that you, too, are passionate about this race and want a change. I hope that in the end, we can all gather around one candidate and ensure that Arpaio’s reign ends.

      Btw… I agree that Paul’s initial twitter & FB page were pretty bad, though it had more to do with the fact that he was not savvy with social media, something he freely admits. The last couple of months, he’s turned that around, and I think you’ll find he’s sending out pointed information.

      1. Terri Woodmansee

        Julie: I have a lot of respect for your stance after the loss of your husband, and I’m truly sorry for your loss. I believe it takes a strong individual to do what you have done and survive such a tragedy. I do not agree with your article or on the fact that you believe John Rowan should step down, especially since you have never met the man or spoken with him. He is far from crazy and has stood up against corruption and made major sacrifices that neither you or I can imagine. Paul Penzone is a nice individual but does not have the skill set to walk in and run one of largest Sheriff’s department in the country. John began his race at the same time as Paul and didn’t go into this blind. He has a history of reform abilities and standing up against corruption far beyond Paul. It is sadden to think that your affiliation with certain party leaders has blindsided your opinion. A true writer should do research and know all the facts before making a decision. You have not. We need a true law enforcement professional with the skills and experience in reforming and rebuilding a department. Paul does not have these qualifications, so we need someone who can win and then actually do the job. We don’t need another politician. I’m sorry but a prior Sergeant does not have the knowledge or ability to lead. Being a part of a non-profit does not entail the same skills. I encourage you to do more research and not just side with those who believe that the candidate they recruited is the best. We need a true leader who has shown they can stand up against adversity and corruption and is strong. John Rowan is that man!

        1. Post
          Julie Erfle

          As I stated in a previous comment, my support for Paul Penzone is not because of his party affiliation (which is the same as John Rowan’s) but because I believe he is the best candidate and best equipped to defeat Arpaio. I’m not sure what “party leaders” you’re referring to, but I can assure you, I made this decision on my own and long before it was considered “popular.”

          1. Terri

            You do have the right to your opinion, but as you stated you believe Paul Penzone is the best candidate, but you never even checked into John Rowan or spoke with him. He returns all calls and emails. So unfortunately you made a decision with out having all the information on all candidates. A high number of backers for Paul have switched to John after looking into his background, skills and proven leadership. Best wishes on your decision, though I believe if Paul wins due to leadership push, we will be greatly disappointed with the outcome. We don’t need another politician or someone who doesn’t have the abilities with no Command experience.

    2. Bob Unferth

      Rowan will be knocked out in the primary, so he’s hardly worth discussing. Money is not Stauffer’s only problem, although it is a big one. He doesn’t have any party machinery behind him. No supporting cadre of elected officials, candidates, political experts in all kinds of fields from IT, to polling, direct mail, logistics, media, canvassing and a myriad of other aspects of a high profile political campaign

      Just for instance, his ability to turn out a thousand volunteers is non-existent. The Democrats can and, admittedly rarely, do. There is no independent organization of any significance. Having knocked on over a thousand doors of registered Independents, I know that, for the most part, these people are ideologically or emotionally committed to one party or the other. “Independent” means something more like, “I’m not going to tell you” than “I’m voting for the Independent.”

      It is disappointing to hear of people blindly and uselessly supporting a candidate who can’t win, and that support comes only because of subjective judgments about candidate resumes. It really doesn’t matter how good the resume is or how the plan, if the candidate will never have a chance to show his stuff in office.

      That is exactly the case with Stauffer. It’s Ralph Nadar all over again – remember? We owe George W. Bush to Ralph Nadar.

      The choice will be between Arpaio and Penzone. A vote for Stauffer is a vote for Arpaio. Remember Olivia Cortez? The scary thing is that Arpaio may solve Stauffer’s money problem.

      1. A Corine

        How small minded of you. Aside from the fact that Stauffer turned in 30,000 signatures, more than Arpaio (15,000), Penzone (6,000) and Rowan (5,000) combined, Independents represent the 2nd largest party in Arizona. Stauffer got into the sheriff’s race in early 2010, so if there’s an Olivia Cortez here, it’s Penzone. Not to mention that Penzone was hand picked by the dem leadership as ‘their guy’ before the primary (it was announced at a dem meeting last week that the prez had to wine and dine Penzone to get him to agree to run. Penzone agreed after the ‘exploratory committee’ did some fundraising and was able to get a certain amount of money deposited in his campaign account) – it’s no wonder Rowan is pissed! What happened to the democratic process? My money is still on Stauffer – party politicians are terrified that an Independent could win this election and they’re gonna do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s time to bring law enforcement back to the Sheriff’s office and screw politics. We’ve had enough politicians, we need someone who’s gonna clean up this mess and get the job done.

  5. Kwaayesnama

    My friends and I looked at the sheriff’s race as if we were in a search committee and we had to choose the candidate most qualified to do the job. After considering the educational background and work experience of all the candidates we decided to back John Rowan. His background shows that he is the most qualified to reverse the corruption and lack of leadership in that position. We all have seen the damage done by a person driven by nothing but ego. Being a nice guy and having money is not a job qualification.

  6. Marie Wolf

    Julie, really enjoyed Citazens for a Better Arizona that you moderated. Very intersting program. Please take the time to meet John Rowan. I appreciate that you think that Paul Penzone is more electable, but Rowan is also a great candidate

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