NEWBURYPORT — Two prominent Newburyport politicians figured into the news of the day yesterday, one for an office that she attained, and another for an office that he didn’t.
Attorney General Maura Healey was sworn into office yesterday, replacing the outgoing Martha Coakley. Healey, who had never run for office before, won decisively with 62 percent of the vote in the Nov. 4 election.
Healey, who lives in Charlestown but grew up in Newburyport and has firm family roots here, gave her inaugural speech yesterday afternoon at Faneuil Hall in Boston. She is the first openly gay attorney general to be elected in the nation.
Also yesterday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced his choice for secretary of Public Safety. Newburyporter Frank Cousins’ name had been widely discussed on Beacon Hill as a possible choice, but in the end Baker chose Worcester County Senior First Assistant District Attorney Daniel Bennett.
Cousins, a Republican, was seen as a strong contender, given his 18 years of service as Essex County sheriff and his solid credentials within the GOP. Gov. Mitt Romney had asked Cousins to serve as his secretary of Public Safety in 2003, but he declined.
Bennett has been the senior first assistant district attorney in Worcester County since 2011, serving as right-hand man to District Attorney Joseph Early Jr., a Democrat and the son of the late Congressman Joseph Early. It’s not clear what Bennett’s party affiliation is.
Bennett was named a 2013 Prosecutor of the Year by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association. Prior to joining the Worcester District Attorney’s Office, he was senior trial counsel in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, where he began his career as an assistant district attorney in 1994.
The public safety post was the final cabinet-level post that Baker has filled in his new administration.
The public safety secretary oversees a number of key agencies, including the state police, Department of Correction and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Bennett succeeds Andrea Cabral, who served as secretary under Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.
In another political move yesterday that affected a Newburyporter, state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor-Ives saw her Senate chairmanship assignment changed. The Newburyport Democrat was named the chair of the Community Development and Small Business Committee. For the past two years she had chaired the Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee.