PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he has no intention of debating his challengers before next month's election.
Critics are calling the self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America" too scared to debate.
His opponents, Democrat Paul Penzone and Independent Mike Stauffer, would love the chance to go one-on-one with Arpaio in a public forum, but that's tough to do when the sheriff refuses to debate.
"I don't have to debate the two people running against me," Arpaio said. "Maybe they can debate themselves and let the public know who they are, which they don’t."
Arpaio said his long record speaks for itself.
"I've been around 20 years and I think people know who their sheriff is," Arpaio said.
Penzone, who is a former Phoenix police officer and Arpaio's closest challenger, said it's Arpaio's duty to go face to face with those vying for his job.
"At the end of the day, he's a public servant and he owes it to the voters to stand next to his opponents and have the courage to answer questions, not the ones that he wants to speak to, but the ones that they want to hear about," Penzone said.
Stauffer believes a debate would help voters make a better decision.
"I think to see the contrast between his ideas and my ideas and how a professionally run organization as opposed to a media-driven organization would be," Stauffer said.
The anti-Arpaio group Citizens for a Better Arizona made its own comment on the sheriff's refusal to debate his opponents. The group brought live chickens to Arpaio's downtown headquarters Tuesday afternoon.
"We brought these chickens to really dramatize what's taking place," Randy Parraz said. "As citizens we're not going to sit back and watch."
Parraz said the group has launched the "Chicken Arpaio" campaign to educate voters about the sheriff's refusal to take part in a debate.
Stauffer said he would gladly debate just Penzone, but Penzone said he's not vying for second place and wants to go up against the head guy.