November 2, 2004
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio easily won his fourth term Tuesday. Arpaio had seemingly insurmountable leads late Tuesday over Democrat Robert Ayala and Independent W. Steven Martin.
“This tells me my strength is with the people. I don't go to special interests,” said Arpaio from the Phoenix Civic Center, where he watched election results come in. “I feel humbled.
The people want to continue to be their sheriff.” Voters said they wanted to maintain Arpaio's tough approach to law enforcement — inexpensive meals for inmates, chain gangs and Tent City, where convicted inmates do their time in tents and exposed to the heat and cold. "I like what he does," said Steven Batt of Mesa outside Tongan Methodist Church, 301 N. Longmore. "Sometimes there's too much grandstanding for my taste, but I think he's doing an effective job."
Ayala, a 2000 candidate who ran after retiring from a 30-year career as a sheriff's deputy, said he was not ready to concede with 70 percent of the precincts reporting. Martin was the longshot from the beginning of the race.
He switched from Republican to Independent before the primary so he could face Arpaio in the general election. He couldn’t be reached for comment.
Arpaio said his biggest challenge in the next four years is to staff two new jails built with funds from a one-fifth cent sales tax approved by voters in 1998 and extended in 2002 for 20 years. He said he is also going to become more active at the Legislature, seeking tougher laws for animal cruelty.