Jane Swift was Governor of Massachusetts from April 10, 2001 to January 20, 2003. She was serving as Lieutenant Governor when Governor Paul Celluci, with whom she had been elected in 1998, resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to Canada. She had previously served in the State Senate from 1991-1997, lost a race for Congress in 1996, and been Massachusetts’ Secretary of Consumer Affairs from 1997 to 2001.
This interview with the Center on the American Governor was conducted on June 8, 2012 when Governor Swift was visiting the Eagleton Institute of Politics as the keynote speaker for the New Leadership Program. It was conducted by John Weingart, Associate Director of the Institute.
Quotes From the Interview
On ascending to Governor from being Lieutenant Governor:
I think the area where I was ill-prepared and I would counsel future lieutenant governors, but I often counsel young women, is in making sure that I was always considering the potential ascension and doing the kind of networking and consulting of other individuals so that I would have been politically better prepared and better positioned when the governor left. I made a mistake early in my time in statewide office as lieutenant governor. And I think a lot of women make this. And I also had my first child was born shortly before I was elected. And so, as a working mother, I had this concept as well that if I just did the, you know, mechanics of the job really, really well, if I read every briefing book, if I knew every issue, you know, if I was just so well prepared, then that would take care of everything. I’d be a great lieutenant governor. And the truth is, there are a lot of other soft skills and activities that I should have been engaging in, key constituency groups that I should have been going to lunch with, individuals I should have been inviting into my office to seek their opinions so that I could have a broader view and frankly, a broader core of support if I were to move ahead in government.
On her legacy as Governor:
I also think I got to make an impact on how kids in our foster care system are able to access a college education. We put in place one of the best education reform systems of any state and we’re named a national model. And it’s still largely driving public policy in Massachusetts today. And Massachusetts has among some of the best public schools in the country. It’s not a job that’s done by any means yet. But we have some real accomplishments. I met some really cool people. I got to do some really interesting things. So I do think it is a fabulous job. And I think it’s a fabulous job in many states because you get that nice balance of being close enough to be able to impact issues where you can see the difference you’re making. But you are at enough of a level and have enough power that those impacts can be pretty amazing in their reach and sometimes pretty lasting.
Interview on June 8, 2012 – Transcript available here (pdf)