Pinal County sheriff's race heats up as candidates debate

MARICOPA, AZ - "I am going to bring community policing back to Pinal county. It's disappeared," Jack McClaren said, opening Saturday's depate in Maricopa.

The six other challengers also fired shot after shot at embattled Sheriff Paul Babeu. 

Throughout the Saturday morning debate, Babeu took most of the criticism in stride, saying the department was better off now under his command than ever before.

"What do you not know about me and the Sheriff's Office for God's sakes," Babeu said.

All seven men vying for top lawman in the county have extensive experience. Many boast long careers with corrections or policing in the area.

"I grew up here in Pinal county, raised my children here in Pinal county, and my grandchildren here in Pinal county," Republican challenger McClaren said.

"I have dedicated my entire career to Pinal county," said Independent candidate, Ty Morgan.

Each challenger criticized Babeu's handling of his personal life, saying his actions were distractions, and they would hold the office to higher standard.

"There's a lot of scandals, there's a lot of stuff here and people are not happy with the current administration," Democratic candidate Kevin Taylor said.

"I am a man of family value, high moral, and integrity," said Republican candidate Derek Arnson.

"I think the top priority of law enforcement here in Pinal County is simply accountability," Democratic candidate Glenn Millsaps said.

One Republican candidate said the department needed to come together under stronger leadership.

"I have the ability to bring different sides, different factions together to find some common solutions," said Tom Bearup.

Democratic challengers and the lone independent claimed they could better manage finances.

"I definitely know how to run a budget. If you don't have checks and balances in the budget, you are going to be in trouble," Taylor said.

"We're not putting the money where the boots are, and that's what we need to do," Morgan said.

Babeu contended he's still the best man for the job, saying he has made the department better.

"Folks, that's results and our budget is in balance. This is where it comes to performance," he said.

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