Gloves Are Off in Democrat Primary for Bristol County Sheriff
A commitment to remain civil during their debate last week on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight was quickly jettisoned when Bristol County Sheriff candidates Nick Bernier and George McNeil filed a joint statement condemning their fellow Democratic candidate, Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, for a mailing commissioned by Heroux's campaign that hit tens of thousands of doors in the SouthCoast the day following the debate.
The two-sided mailing features a front-facing side which highlights Heroux's background as a corrections administrator in a county jail and in a prison system, his education in criminology and public administration, and his platform spelling out the changes he would make as sheriff.
On the rear-facing side, however, is where Heroux's opponents took issue. A table chart in the center of the page that puts Heroux in the center and "Candidate NB" and "Candidate GM" on each side and compares Heroux favorably to the other candidates.
The table chart includes that Heroux is eight-for-eight in elections, and that "Candidate GM" has won 0 elections and "Candidate NB" is 0-for-two; that Heroux has experience working in jail and prisons and "Candidate NB" and "Candidate GM" do not; that Heroux has 686 total donations and "Candidate NB"has 173 and "Candidate GM" has 60; and that "Candidate GM" voted in the 2016 Republican primary.
The day following the mailing, Bernier and McNeil issued a joint-candidate press release titled "Heroux's Broken Promises," calling the mailing an attack and a betrayal of his promise to keep the peace between the candidates in the primary.
"On Wednesday night Paul Heroux reaffirmed his promise not to attack primary candidates, but then Bristol County voters received his negative mailer the very next day," Bernier and McNeil said in the joint statement.
They went on further paint Heroux as both dishonest and a political climber who is in constant search for higher office.
The joint press release highlights that Heroux was reelected to his state rep seat in 2016, and decided to run for mayor against Kevin Dumas in 2017. Heroux went on beat the seven-term incumbent and become mayor, leaving his state rep seat open. According to the press release, Heroux "cost the voters the price of a special election to fill the empty seat his political ambitions created."
The joint press release also condemns his current run for sheriff, stating that if he is successfully elected he will leave his mayoral seat open for a special election.
The candidates say that Heroux's mailing "shows the worst sort of politics" adding that they have mailing's being sent out that "simply present our views along with our qualifications for this high office."
"We are both choosing respectful campaigns because the voters of Bristol County want and deserve honesty," the release concludes.
You can read the press release in its entirety here.
Heroux told WBSM that he doesn't understand why his opponents are upset by the mailing.
"It was a contrast piece, not negative," he said. "Everything I said in my mailing was discussed in person at the debate on WBSM. No one took issue with any of the points in the debate, but now the same points are an issue in my mailing. That is bizarre."
Heroux also said that if his voters disapproved of his run for mayor, it is not reflected in his decisive electoral victories.
"I ran unopposed in 2016 so there was no misleading anyone because I didn’t say anything about anything," Heroux told WBSM. "In March 2017, I decided to run for mayor, which was not an issue for Attleboro voters because they elected me mayor with 54 percent, and reelected with me 67 percent in 2019."
Heroux also told WBSM that he was upfront with his voters during the last Attleboro mayoral election about his commitment to term-limit himself and run for another office in his final mayoral term.
"I said in a debate on WPRI October 21, 2021 that this is my last term as mayor and I will be running for something else while I am mayor," he said. "Attleboro voters still reelected me with 66 percent in 2021 knowing that this was going to be my third and final term and then I will be running to something else while I’m serving my last term as mayor."
Election day for the Democratic Primary is September 6, with in-person early voting beginning on Saturday, August 27.
Listen to the full Democratic Primary Debate for Bristol County Sheriff moderated by Marcus on SouthCoast Tonight.