... sort of.
I didn't have time to really research many of the local races before voting day... I realized on my way to the polls that I had no idea what to do on most of the choices before me. So I reminded myself: This is not the SAT. It's not a case of multiple-guess and if I don't know what the best choice is, pick anything because it might be right and it's better than leaving it blank. I am a firm believer that, in elections, if you don't know squat about the issues, leave it alone. It's a struggle, though, not to just pick one.
I ended up voting in three races. Two, really, because one didn't have a challenger, but I felt like casting my vote of confidence for John McCain. One of the other ones I voted for the incumbent because I approved of the job he was doing, and the challenger's negative campaigning didn't tell me what he was going to stand for. The other one was the kicker, and the real reason Hubby-head and I bothered to make a point of going to the polls. Maricopa County Sheriff.
Joe Arpaio is legendary in this town, and has become stuff of legend nationwide. Every time he runs for re-election, he wins handily. And this year, Hubby and I mobilized to the vote in the effort to rid ourselves of the man who is referred to as America's Toughest Sheriff.
You might wonder why. Sometimes I have mixed feelings about it myself.
There are things I like about Sheriff Joe. Tent City. Reinstituting the chain gang. Running a no-frills jail system that doesn't provide coffee, cigarettes, allows no pornographic magazines and feeds the prisoners about as cheap as you can get. Pink underwear. The mall posse. Reintroducing our society to the concept of shame. Making jail an embarassing and uncomfortable enough place that you want to avoid it (or avoid going back once you've experienced it) at all costs. These are the things Arizona loves about Sheriff Joe, and the reason he keeps being re-elected over and over.
Then, there are the other things. The things that make me uncomfortable. The things that make me cringe. The things that make me think it's time for someone new. Suspicious deaths of prisoners in intake, complete with multi-million dollar wrongful death settlements. The allegations of misappropriated funds. The prostitution sting gone wrong. The freaking tank, for pity's sake. Actively campaigning for the ambiguously gay governor. But the thing that makes me most uncomfortable with Sheriff Arpaio is the sheer ego of the man. His tendency to make everything into a media circus. It's not about law enforcement for Joe, it's about his media-fueled reputation.
Dan Saban unfortunately was defeated in the primary election - Sheriff Joe took the "ignore him and maybe he'll go away" tactic in his campaign, arrogantly figuring that he didn't need to debate his challenger because he was not a serious challenge. If I were you, Sheriff, I wouldn't make that assumption in the general election. There are those, even among your party faithful, that feel it is seriously time for a change.