ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux is jumping into this year’s race for Bristol County sheriff, giving longtime incumbent Thomas Hodgson a high-profile challenger.

Heroux confirmed his decision Monday in an interview with 12 News, after saying last month he was considering a run for one of two higher offices in 2022. He noted that he has previously worked in corrections facilities in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, and that he oversees the police force in Attleboro.

“I would like to take the Bristol County jail system and turn that into a national model of evidence-producing corrections with a focus on reentry and reducing recidivism,” Heroux said.

“And the reason I say evidence-producing instead of evidence-based: I think the thinking 15 years ago was evidence-based government, evidence-based corrections — I want to take us a step further and not just do what works but measure here what works,” he said.

Hodgson, a 67-year-old Republican, has held the sheriff’s job since 1997 and has aligned himself closely with former President Trump. He previously served as a member of the New Bedford City Council.

“We have an incumbent who has been there for 24 years and wants to go for 30 years, and I believe that’s probably too long,” Heroux said. “I don’t think that’s what our founders intended.”

Hodgson previously told 12 News he was “absolutely” running for another six-year term in 2022. “I always believe: let the voters decide,” he said. “I have a record that they can look at and we’ll leave that up to them. … I think now more than ever people are really hungry for government agencies to be accountable.”

At least one other Democrat, Fall River attorney Nicholas Bernier, has already announced a run against Hodgson, setting up a potential primary between Heroux and Bernier.

“Mayor Paul Heroux is a great politician and has served Attleboro for many years, first as a state representative and now as its mayor,” Bernier said in a statement Monday. “I look forward to a positive exchange of ideas. As a former prosecutor I am dedicated to making Bristol County safer and I look forward to Paul’s positive input.”

Heroux was re-elected by Attleboro voters to a third two-year term last November, and during the campaign he indicated it would be his last term as mayor. The 45-year-old Democrat previously served as a state representative, and prior to that he briefly ran for Congress.

Asked what he’d say to Attleboro voters concerned the city will have a part-time mayor in the coming year as he campaigns for sheriff, Heroux said, “Was that a concern for the last 12 months, when I was running for re-election as mayor? I would say no. All of the work I was supposed to get done was getting done.”

Ted Nesi ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook