Charlie Baker Names Democrat To Replace Rachael Rollins As Suffolk County District Attorney

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Massachusetts will soon have a new district attorney in Suffolk County.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker gets to fill a vacancy shortly, but his isn’t going with a fellow Republican.

Suffolk County district attorney Rachael Rollins is vacating the spot because the U.S. Senate confirmed her as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, which is the top federal prosecutor in the state. As governor, Baker appoints her replacement. His choice:  Kevin Hayden, a registered Democrat.

Hayden, 53, has served as the co-chairman of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board since 2015. He is set to serve the remainder of Rollins’s term. She would have been up for re-election later this year had she stayed with the post.

Rollins, 50, has been the highest-profile district attorney in Suffolk County (which includes the city of Boston) in decades. She gained notoriety even before she took office for announcing a list of crimes she did not intend to prosecute.

The U.S. Senate deadlocked 50-50 on her nomination by President Joe Biden for U.S. Attorney. It took Vice President Kamala Harris’s vote to gain her confirmation.

Hayden, who lives in Roslindale, has experience working in the Suffolk County district attorney’s office — from 1997 to 2008, most recently as the chief of the Safe Neighborhood Initiative.

The state’s web site says that the initiative “brings together federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address those issues.”

Governor Baker praised Hayden in a press release on Thursday, January 6.

“A veteran of the District Attorney’s Office, where he led the Safe Neighborhood Initiative Unit and devoted himself to leading community-based violence prevention outreach and programming, Chairman Hayden is equipped with the experience and knowledge necessary to serve in this role,” Baker said. “I thank District Attorney Rollins for her service and commitment to the people of Suffolk County and look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role as U.S. Attorney.”

In the same written statement, Hayden is quoted as saying that he feels he is prepared to take over the post.

“I started 25 years ago as a young prosecutor right here in Suffolk County. Over the years it has remained the desire of my heart to serve and protect our many diverse communities. So it’s truly my distinct honor and privilege to be called home by the Governor through this appointment,” Hayden said. “With unwavering and compassionate commitment I know it will be Suffolk County’s continued legacy to shine as a beacon in the fields of public safety and criminal justice.”

Hayden didn’t say whether he plans to run for a full term. The party primary elections are currently scheduled for September 2022; the general election is in November 2022.

The press office for Governor Baker could immediately not be reached for comment on Friday, January 7.


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