Most candidates running for Tempe City Council showed skepticism or opposition to having Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio conducting one of his crime sweeps in their city.
Candidates at Thursday night's debate organized by the Tribune largely said they'd resist Arpaio's patrols.
Recently, the sheriff has flooded some high-crime neighborhoods with deputies to make arrests in what critics say is a thinly veiled effort to identify and arrest illegal immigrants without making a dent in crime.
Candidate Corey Woods slammed Arpaio's patrols as "an exercise in chest-thumping and not an appropriate use of power."
Woods said he disagreed with racial profiling and would only support asking for immigration status after establishing probable cause that somebody had committed a crime. He'd also consult with Police Chief Tom Ryff on the matter, saying he'd value his opinion.
Joel Navarro also said he'd consult the police chief and would ask about immigration status only if somebody committed a crime.
"To me, it just doesn't seem right to come into the community and start doing roundups," Navarro said.
Julie Jakubek said police should approach immigration status much like seat-belt laws. Just as drivers need to be cited for another violation before they can be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt, people should not be asked their immigration status unless they're being questioned for a crime, she said.
Only Vice Mayor Hut Hutson had a slightly different view. He said the city has little power over the county's top law enforcement official.
"He can go anywhere he wants to go," Hutson said. "Now, whether I like it is immaterial."
Hutson is the only incumbent in the four-way race for two four-year terms to be decided in the May 20 runoff. Voters in March elected Mark Mitchell outright to a third term on the council.
The only area of significant disagreement in the forum involved the city's property tax rate. The council voted 4-3 a year ago to keep the rate at $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed value, amounting to a tax increase, given huge jumps in property values. Hutson voted against that, arguing the city should lower the rate to keep the actual tax bill roughly stable.
Jakubek also favors lowering the tax rate. She and Hutson said the city is taking in more money than it can spend because voters haven't authorized bonds to spend the funds.
Woods and Navarro said it's too early to commit to the existing rate or a lower one. They said they want to evaluate what the current tax rate will fund and determine if lower rates would force the city to make cuts that affect quality of life. Both said they'd lower the rate only if they could maintain what residents have come to expect.