Governor Deval Patrick will announce Thursday the departure of nearly half his Cabinet as he begins his final two years in office, and the addition to the administration of Suffolk Sheriff Andrea Cabral as public safety secretary, according to people with direct knowledge of the shakeup.
Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez, Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby, Public Safety and Security Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan, and Education Secretary Paul Reville are all leaving the administration, said people who knew of the staff changes. They requested anonymity to divulge details before the formal announcement.
Gonzalez will be replaced by Glen Shor, a top deputy before leaving the secretariat in June 2010 to run the state’s Health Connector program.
Bigby will be replaced by John Polanowicz, president of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, the largest hospital in the Steward Health Care System.
Heffernan will be replaced by Cabral, who was appointed sheriff in 2002 and is the first female sheriff in state history. A high-profile African-
American elected official, Cabral had also been mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor of Boston.
Patrick will appoint a replacement as sheriff, a coveted post with a six-year term, until a special election is held in 2014.
The replacement for Reville could not be immediately confirmed.
“This is a natural inflection point for the administration,” a top Patrick aide told the Globe. “All the Cabinet would stay for the next years if they could, but people are at different points in their lives and careers, so not all of them can make that commitment.”
The aide, who also requested anonymity to speak freely before the announcement, added: “What’s exciting is that the talent and the experience and the quality of the people who will be joining the Cabinet this week is exceptional. The governor has a big agenda and a lot he wants to get done next year, and we’ve put together another really strong team.”
Bigby has been Patrick’s longest-serving Cabinet secretary, serving since the governor took office in 2007.
Gonzalez, promoted from a deputy’s job in 2009, has helped steer the state through the recession and also helped implement the Romney administration’s health care law. Most recently, he has worked to enact Patrick’s health care cost-control measures.
Brian Rosman, research director of Health Care for All, a health consumer group based in Boston, said Bigby brought a unique perspective to the job.
“Because Dr. Bigby was a primary care doctor, she really understood that the way to build a more efficient health care system is to keep people healthy, focus on primary care, and focus on the needs of the patient,” Rosman said.
But the secretaries have also been dogged by an array of controversies.
Legislative Republicans have called for Bigby to resign after a state drug lab chemist allegedly admitted to tampering with criminal evidence, while the state-regulated New England Compounding Center in Framingham was shut down after being linked to tainted steroids that caused a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
Heffernan, who has held her job since 2010, acknowledged recommending Sheila Burgess to be the state's highway safety director despite a driving record riddled with crashes, speeding violations, and other infractions. Burgess resigned after the Globe broke the news last month.
Reville, the first to hold a post created in 2008, helped craft a 2010 law that gave local districts extraordinary powers to overhaul underperforming schools. But he also faced calls for his resignation in 2009, after he wrote an e-mail to the state education commissioner urging him to recommend approving a charter school in an effort to advance the governor’s political agenda.
Reville’s impending departure took many in the education sphere by surprise.
“All of our perception is that he and the governor are close and he has been carrying the governor’s message and there has been a lot of progress in K-12 education,” said Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. “This catches me by surprise and will catch a lot of people by surprise.”
The governor told his top aides after last month’s state and national elections that he wanted them to either recommit to their positions for the remainder of his term or agree to depart so he could find a replacement.
He made the same demand of his first-term Cabinet after winning reelection in November 2010, preferring continuity over piecemeal staff changes. The governor has already declared he will not seek a third term, while insisting that he will not resign early to take a Cabinet appointment in President Obama’s administration.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki, Elder Affairs Secretary Ann L. Hartstein, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne Goldstein, Secretary of Veterans’ Services Coleman Nee, and Transportation Secretary Richard Davey will remain in their posts.
The governor is scheduled to announce the staff changes during a press conference.
A spokesman refused to confirm the press conference or its subject matter.