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Jerry Sheridan, a long-time Fountain Hills resident and former chief deputy for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has announced he will challenge Sheriff Paul Penzone for the job in the 2020 election.

Sheridan has been retired for two years, over which time he and his wife have cared for his elderly parents, living with them at his parents’ home at Goldfield Ranch. His mother has passed away, but he said his father still needs their help.

He has also spent time with his hobby of large format photography, for which he has won awards. He fly fishes and spends time horseback riding. Not a bad life for someone who left his law enforcement job under a cloud of legal questions. Why would he want to return? Sheridan said his wife offered that same perspective when he told her he was going to run.

“I have a passion for the organization [MCSO]. It’s a place I have been affiliated with since I was 18 years old,” Sheridan said. “I left not of my own choosing. I feel compelled to finish the job I started.”

That job is addressing the court compliance issues raised during the tenure of Arpaio and himself. Compliance with the court orders of Judge Murray Snow is what Sheridan and Arpaio were accused of not doing when Arpaio was defeated by Penzone in 2016, and Sheridan left.

In a bench trial a different judge found both Arpaio and Sheridan guilty of contempt of court. Arpaio was pardoned by President Donald Trump and the charges against Sheridan were dismissed.

The court orders stemmed from accusations that the Sheriff’s office under Arpaio’s administration was profiling minorities in connection with immigration sweeps and traffic stops.

“I spent two years working to comply with Judge Snow’s order,” Sheridan said. “I’d like to go back and finish what I started.”

Sheridan spent 38 years with MCSO and he estimates about 15 of those years were working in Fountain Hills. His dad was a New York City police officer and when he retired he moved his family to Fountain Hills. Sheridan was just 18 years old and began with MCSO as a volunteer reserve.

“I want to give back to the agency that gave me so much over the years,” he said.

He served four different sheriffs and said he learned from each of them; some things he should do, and some he shouldn’t.

“I was very happy and proud to be a member of the Sheriff’s Office,” Sheridan said. “I know I did the best job possible that I could, and I did it ethically. If others feel differently that is their problem.”

Sheridan realizes it will not be an easy task to run for election with the issues associated with his earlier service. But he feels it is something that he has to do. He said he has been hearing from people he worked with telling him, “MCSO needs you back.”

“If I don’t do this now, I will regret it for the rest of my life,” Sheridan said.

Sheridan has a master’s degree and graduated from the FBI Academy.

“I have the foundation to be the best sheriff I can be,” he said. “Nobody is as qualified as I am to run the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.”