A campaign to recall Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is under way, with the penning of the first of the 335,000 signatures needed for an election to take place in November.
William James Fisher, a local attorney, is the chairman of Respect Arizona, a political action committee formed to oust the sheriff.
Fisher says, "Arpaio has failed in many ways," citing the sheriff's wasteful spending, the mismanagement of his office, the racial profiling in which his deputies engage, and his preference for publicity over doing his job.
Randy Parraz, a community organizer who led a successful recall effort against former state Senate President Russell Pearce, arguably one of the most powerful politicians in Arizona, says this is "the right fight at the right time."
He says his group is striking now because Arpaio, who spent millions "repackaging himself" through television ads for the public during his re-election campaign, is no longer sitting on a huge political war chest.
"Do we sit back and let him reload? Or do we take him now when he is the most vulnerable?" Parraz says. "The worst thing that can happen to us is that we don't succeed. I can live with that. I can't live with not trying."
Mary Lou Boettcher, a nearly 80-year-old Republican and former supporter of Arpaio, was among the first to sign.
"Arpaio has done so many things against women and little children," she tells New Times. "There was a 2-year-old girl who was raped, and the family had proof, and it wasn't investigated by the Sheriff's Office. He doesn't need our respect, or our support any more. He needs to retire."
Boettcher, who also participated in efforts to boot Pearce from office, is referring to the hundreds of sex-abuse cases that Arpaio's office mishandled or never investigated resulting in the denial of justice for an unknown number of rape and molestation victims.
Backers of the recall aren't dissuaded by the argument that Arpaio was just re-elected, signaling that voters approve of his behavior in office.
Arpaio won with 50.7 percent of the vote.
"No victory of an election ... can erase the pain and suffering that has taken place. You can't excuse it, or make it right," says Parraz. "An election does not deliver justice."
The crew will work to spread the word about Arpaio's deficiencies as they collect the needed signatures.
"This isn't easy work. It's not sexy. It's not glamorous," says Parraz, president of Citizens for a Better Arizona. "It's about engaging people. It's going to be a difficult journey, but we're up for it."
Chad Snow, chairman for Citizens for a Better Arizona, says that two years ago, on this very day, a small group launched efforts to recall Pearce.
Snow says the group pressed forward against Pearce despite many critics saying, "You'd never be able to get the signatures, you won't be able to raise the money, he just had an election, you'll never find a candidate to run against him, and even if you do, he'll never win.
"Nine months later, Russell Pearce was out of a job, defeated in a landslide election" Snow says.
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