They may love him or hate him, but most folks in these parts know Tom Hodgson is the Sheriff of Bristol County. That's important, because more than 80 percent of Massachusetts residents have no idea who their sheriff is, according to a new poll.

The Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently commissioned Beacon Research to conduct a poll to see just what folks in the Commonwealth know about their sheriff and the office of sheriff in general.

The results might surprise you.

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Here is just some of what the poll revealed:

– 83 percent of respondents statewide could not name their county sheriff.
– 41 percent didn't know the sheriff is an elected position.
– 10 percent knew the sheriff serves a six-year term.

Remarkably, 53 percent of Bristol County residents surveyed in the Beacon Research poll know Tom Hodgson as their sheriff. Hodson, first appointed to the position in 1997, has served as sheriff for 25 years. His current six-year term expires this year.

So fa, Hodgson, a Republican, has three Democrat challenges to his re-election bid: Paul Heroux of Attleboro, Nick Bernier of Fall River, and former Somerset Police Chief George McNeil.

State House News Service reports the ACLU plans to use the poll results to "boost awareness around the role of county sheriffs." The ACLU says its "Know Your Sheriff" campaign puts "new information into the voter's hands about another important player in the criminal legal system."

The significant name recognition he enjoys has got to be good news for Hodgson, who faces his first serious challenge in years. If I were one of the other lesser-known sheriffs, I'd be hustling to find out who heads Hodgson's P.R. team.

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