Opinion: A blight on all of us that we need to fix

Oct 27, 2022

To the Editor:

I write to endorse Paul Heroux for Bristol County Sheriff, and to ask all Bristol County voters to please take part in this election. Voting is how change happens, and we badly need a change in this office.

First things first: The election is just days away and early voting has started — which means you can vote now in most every town, most days of the week save Sundays. So please set aside some time, because here’s why this election matters:

Sheriff's elections aren't usually considered "marquee elections" on any year's ballot. But this one is, because it's about what we stand for as proud residents of Massachusetts' most interesting, culturally diverse and lovely county.

This race is a two-for-one deal: We can choose the thoroughly qualified, thoroughly decent Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux — a person who truly reflects Bristol County's values and easygoing human kindness — to replace the grotesquely cruel, inhumane and tax-dollar-wasting regime of Tom Hodgson.

Paul believes in term limits: he's a three-term Attleboro mayor and is not intending to run for re-election. Before that, he was a three-term state representative. His constituents love him; he's never lost an election. He has an extensive background in criminal justice, having studied and worked in prison systems, and he's thought deeply about the issues that underlie a Sheriff's job, including his responsibilities toward the taxpayers of Bristol County and those entrusted to a Sheriff's protection and care (including those awaiting trial who haven't been convicted of any crime.)

Sheriff Hodgson's track record, on the other hand, is an unmitigated disgrace — and the cost can be measured in many human lives as well as in many wasted tax dollars.

Sheriff Hodgson seemingly has no sense at all that rehabilitation is what our Houses of Correction are about. Does he even understand the term, CORRECTION, rather than abuse and inhumanity? He instead brags about the appalling conditions in his jails, papering them over with phony tough-guy talk about how jails are not supposed to be country clubs.

But those same conditions have led to Bristol having the worst repeat-offender and highest in-custody suicide rates of any Massachusetts county. The federal Department of Homeland Security terminated contracts it previously held with Hodgson's department after a scathing report on his treatment of detainees.

This is a blight on all of us that we need to fix.

Hodgson's TRUE track record is clear, and backed by independent studies: He is wasting huge amounts of taxpayer money even while harming those in his care. Our current Attorney General and candidate for governor, Maura Healey, has tangled with Hodgson repeatedly in attempting to get him to comply with the law and to treat the humans entrusted to his care humanely.

Those are the facts.

Paul Heroux has concrete plans to fix what Sheriff Hodgson has broken during his 25 years of misrule. You can read more about Paul, his qualifications and his plans at: https://www.paulheroux.org/

One final note: I've always believed that if any political candidate has to lie about who he or she is and what his/her record is - if fooling the people is all you've got - maybe you shouldn't be running for re-election.
Sheriff Hodgson's re-election campaign is based on a slew of lies and attempts to mislead voters, including placing campaign signs in front of numerous empty storefronts in a sham attempt to show grassroots support, and whipping up people's fears by inaccurately claiming that he, Sheriff Hodgson, keeps us safe - when in fact the Sheriff's Department has nothing to do with everyday law enforcement or investigation. Local police departments do that.
We have a real choice here — please find the time in the next few days to vote for PAUL HEROUX for Sheriff of Bristol County.
Steve Tripoli,