Maura Healey, the state’s new attorney general, was sworn in on Wednesday in a dramatic ceremony in Faneuil Hall, joined onstage by the governor, lieutenant governor, House speaker, and mayor of Boston, before hundreds packed into the historic hall.
Healey, 43, a Charlestown resident and civil rights attorney, pledged to fight for opportunity for all and to run an office guided by values of responsiveness, inclusion, and integrity. Citing issues from the prescription drug crisis to human trafficking and sexual assault, she said, “As the people’s lawyer, the attorney general is here to take on those tough challenges.”
The oath of office was administered by the chief of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Ralph D. Gants. Mo Cowan, who served as interim US senator after John F. Kerry became US secretary of state, served as master of ceremonies.
With a procession by the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums and a retiring of the colors by the Massachusetts State Police Honor Guard, the event felt historic, and Healey nodded to the Faneuil Hall location, where people once spoke out against slavery and spoke up for women’s rights, as fitting.
“Today, this is the place where lawyers are admitted to the bar, and where immigrants become citizens — both swearing allegiance to the Constitution and to the principles of liberty, equality, and justice,” she said. “In Faneuil Hall, we become Americans, and we discuss what it means to be an American.”
In her remarks, she announced that she will establish a division focused on protecting young people, at home and online, and that she would tackle issues including teen addiction, dating violence, child abuse, and reducing the number of young people in the juvenile justice system.
She also reiterated previously reported plans to create a Division of Community Engagement to serve the public with robust consumer hotlines and regional offices across the state, and to confront what she called an “unprecedented public health crisis” of heroin and prescription drug abuse.
“To all those who have lost a loved one to the epidemic: I stand with you,” she said, leading the crowd to stand, too, in an ovation.
She directly addressed two industries — for-profit colleges and incoming casinos — saying the attorney general’s office would be watching them.
“If you want to prey on our students, then you’ve picked the wrong state,” she said.
And she pledged to hold casino executives to the commitments they made for their licenses.
“All of this is a tall order for maybe the shortest person to ever take this office,” Healey said, eliciting laughs from the crowd. Healey, who stands just 5 feet, 4 inches tall, was once a professional basketball player.
During the ceremony, Healey also administered the oath of office to many of the 250 assistant attorneys general who will work for her.
Earlier in the day, she had named consumer protection and litigation attorney Chris Barry-Smith as first assistant attorney general and business litigator and arbitrator Richard Johnston as chief legal counsel. The two will help oversee the office, as well as major cases and initiatives.
The cost of the ceremony, attended by more than 800, was absorbed by Healey’s campaign committee, said spokesman David Guarino.
The attorney general was just one of the statewide elected officials sworn in Wednesday. Auditor General Suzanne Bump and newly elected Treasurer Deborah Goldberg also took the oaths of office in State House ceremonies, while Secretary of State William F. Galvin was sworn in privately by the governor.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when Mo Cowan served as interim US senator.