DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — Longtime Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson has drawn a challenger for next year’s election.

Fall River Democrat Nick Bernier, a 36-year-old lawyer and former Bristol County assistant district attorney, filed paperwork with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance disclosing his intention to run.

“I think it’s time for a change,” Bernier told 12 News. “It’s been 24 years. I do think that a lot of the things he’s done have been positive, but obviously I disagree with many, many others.”

Bernier plans to hold an initial fundraiser on Dec. 1 at the Fall River Country Club to raise money for his campaign. State Sen. Mike Rodrigues, state Reps. Carole Fiola and Alan Silvia, and Governor’s Councilor Joe Ferreira are all listed as supporters on the invitation.

Nick Bernier (courtesy: Bernier campaign)

“Ironically, I’m running to take the politics out of this position, because it really shouldn’t be that political,” Bernier said.

Bernier previously ran for Governor’s Council in 2012 and lost in a squeaker after a recount. He also made headlines as a witness for the prosecution in the recent criminal trial of disgraced former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia.

Hodgson, 67, has served as Bristol County sheriff since 1997, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Bill Weld. He told 12 News he is “absolutely” running for another term next year and expects to make a more formal announcement after the holidays.

“I always believe: let the voters decide,” Hodgson 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.”

A former member of the New Bedford City Council, Hodgson ran unopposed in 2016 to win his current six-year term as sheriff. Six years earlier, in 2010, he survived a competitive and expensive re-election race against former state Rep. John Quinn.

Hodgson has become one of the most prominent Republicans in Massachusetts in recent years, and last year served as the honorary state chair of President Trump’s re-election campaign. But he has also drawn criticism for his policies on the county prison and immigration.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) 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

Tim White contributed to this report.