Cabral Pegged for State Cabinet

There’s going to be a new sheriff in town.

Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral has accepted a position in Gov. Deval Patrick’s cabinet as the Secretary of Public Safety and Security.

Cabral was last elected to her post as sheriff in 2010, besting Hassan Smith easily.

“Sheriff Cabral is grateful that Governor Patrick has recognized all of the good work that has been done at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department over the past 10 years and he will undoubtedly be looking for the best able person to continue with it,” said Peter Van Delft, Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer. “That decision, however, will be made in due course.”

The term for Sheriff is six years, and there will most likely be an appointment made by Gov. Patrick to serve out the next four years.

Cabral will assume her position next month so as to be in place for the 2013-2014 legislative session.

Sheriff Cabral will replace Marybeth Heffernan as Secretary of Public Safety and Security. Many have postulated that Heffernan was forced out of her position due to the debacle around the hiring of Sheila Burgess as the state’s Highway Safety Director, despite having a horrible driving record and no driver’s license.

Patrick denied at a press conference last week that he was forcing Heffernan out because of the scandal and took responsibility for the patronage hiring of Burgess.

In 10 years as Suffolk County Sheriff, Cabral has been lauded for reforming prisoner reentry programs and modernizing the county’s correctional facilities. A graduate of Boston College and Suffolk Law, Cabral is also the first woman in the Commonwealth’s history to serve as Sheriff.

Heffernan leaves the administration after six years as Undersecretary and Secretary. She helped secure passage of long-sought reforms to the Criminal Offender Record Information System (CORI) and led the administration’s efforts to reform the Probation Department.

Cabral – who started out as a Republican – was appointed to her position in 2002 by then-Republican Gov. Jane Swift. That appointment came during a controversial report that called for major reforms at the Sheriff’s Department.

However, shortly after her appointment, Cabral switched parties and announced she was becoming a Democrat.

In 2004, she edged out Boston City Councillor Stephen Murphy in her first election to the post.

Already, many names have been floated as potential candidates for the appointment, including Murphy once again. However, the strongest name so far on that short list has been Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson – who made a name for himself initially working for Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration.

No names from Revere, Chelsea or Winthrop have surfaced so far in the succession discussion.

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