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‘Public officials can’t make perfect decisions’ says last person from western Massachusetts to serve as governor

Jane Swift
Jane Swft

The last western Massachusetts resident to hold statewide office finds the prospect of another one exciting. Former Lt. Gov. Jane Swift (R-North Adams) discussed the political challenges faced by candidates from the western part of the state as part of a wide-ranging interview on And Another Thing. State Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) is a candidate for lieutenant governor.

And Another Thing devotes its Monday programs to in depth interviews with a single guest. Jane Swift is this week’s guest.

Swift served as lieutenant governor from 1999 to 2003. In her last two years in that office, she was acting governor, following the resignation of Gov. Paul Cellucci.

“As difficult as some of my experiences were when I was in government, they have enabled me to have such a mission driven career since then,” said Swift, who is now President and CEO of LearnLaunch Institute.

Swift compared her experience as acting governor at the time of the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington to the challenges currently faced by public officials, who must make decisions today related to COVID-19 developments.

“You have to make them quickly. People are really anxious for action. But you do not have all the facts,” said Swift. Public leaders are having to make decisions [with] the best available information, hopefully with the right people advising you. But some of it is based…on what I know is not a two plus two equals four answer here. So, I’ve just got to find based on what I know is the closest approximation of a four answer.’”

Swift recalled the challenge of getting from the Berkshires to Boston as quickly as possible on that day and said the extra time required may have helped her. She said a speeding state police cruiser with flashing lights made the trip in about an hour and a half.

“That was time to be processing an unimaginable and tragic event. And while all our early panic was in me not getting to the place to make the decision soon enough. As it turns out. I've never heard anybody say, ‘oh, she should have made that decision an hour sooner,’” Swift recalled.

This episode of And Another Thing was first broadcast on November 1, 2021.

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