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Greer Tan Swiston: Candidate for State Representative, 11th Middlesex District

Meet Greer Tan Swiston, Candidate for State Representative in Newton. Ask her questions, give her feedback or simply read more about her.

My full name is Greer Hsing Tan Swiston. I realize that is a mouthful, but I suppose that also reveals a lot about me. I could not bring myself to drop the name that my parents gave me when I was born. However, I am also privileged to be a part of the Swiston family.

It definitely makes it easy to Google me ... so be my guest!

I am running for State Representative of the 11th Middlesex District. If you vote in Auburndale, Newton Lower Falls, West Newton, Newtonville or Newton Corner, please look for my name on the ballot on November 6, 2012.

If you have any doubt about your State Representative District, call the Newton Elections Office at (617) 796-1350 to confirm. With the recent redistricting and reprecincting after the 2010 census, there have been some changes.

I've gotten to know many people over the past several years, running and getting elected as a Newton alderman. However, for those who are new to the area or whom I've simply not had the pleasure of meeting yet, I'll share a bit of my background.

My husband and I have lived in Newton for over 20 years. Our first house was on Auburndale Ave. Now we live in West Newton. Both our kids were born at the Newton-Wellesley hospital. My son just graduated Newton North this year and my daughter will be entering as a freshman next year.

I graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  I worked for NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab as well as venerable corporations like Fidelity and Merrill Lynch as a software engineer, project manager and IT Executive.  I have been the second employee at a brand new start-up  and have been a staff member in an organization of thousands. My compensation has been hourly and salaried, with equity and with money, by paycheck and by commission. Given the economic roller coaster we're on, I've had the opportunity to experience employment and unemployment in a variety of ways. I have since retired from Engineering and Project Management and am now involved in real estate investment, sales and management as well as serving on the Newton Board of Aldermen.

I am also a habitual volunteer, always have been. I've gone from Girl Scout to Girl Scout leader; youth counselor to board member. The Newton Veterans know me as the lady in the red heels (lots of stories there). I've coached t-ball and soccer and teach a pre-school class on Sundays. I take great pleasure in working with residents in assisted living facilities and have visited almost all of the 15+ facilities that we have here in Newton with either the Girl Scouts or some other student group.  My family and I often volunteer at Chetwynde Golden Living Center in West Newton.

I've had the honor of being called upon by both Governor Romney and Governor Patrick to serve our State.  Romney appointed me to the Judicial Nominating Committee, the Commission on the Status of Women and to the Public Education Nominating Committee. Patrick appointed me to the State Advisory Committee for the US Commission on Civil Rights.

I feel strongly that American Democracy can only be preserved when voters have a choice and a voice. Newton deserves to have a choice. We all deserve to have a voice.

As Alderman, I've served on the Zoning and Planning Committee and on the Public Safety and Transportation committee giving me insight to what we face as a city and what support we would need from the State. As the Vice Chair and then Chair of the Post Audit and Oversight Committee I have some experience with the tools for exercising checks and balances in government. I would be bringing this experience to the state house. I focused on these issues because these were the concerns that I heard loudest and most often from the people I spoke with all around the city. I will bring this same energy, fresh ideas and enthusiasm to Beacon Hill as your State Rep.

It has often been noted that there are very few engineers or Asians in our legislature, certainly not in proportion nor representative of our population. It was also pointed out to me that one could not elect someone who doesn't run.

So I am running to give voters a choice, to give Newton a voice.  I look forward to the opportunity to chat with you individually, perhaps over coffee or tea, to hear your thoughts and concerns. For now, I am here to ask for your consideration, support and vote this November.

Thank you to the Patch for providing this venue to further build community and I look forward to getting to know you better and hopefully to meet you in person soon.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sande Young June 25, 2012 at 02:05 AM
I would be very happy to have Greer Tan Swiston represent our community on Beacon Hill because of her backround, experience, and respectively persuasive personality. It is past time that we have a more balance on Beacon Hill. We need new people with fresh ideas.
Anthony Munchak June 26, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Greer -- with 85% of the legislature always voting the same way because "they owe it to one another", it will be good to have an independent voice with fresh ideas. Our current rep only seems to have bold new ideas on how to raise taxes and install new regulations. -- Anthony Munchak
Greer Tan Swiston June 27, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Thank you both for commenting and for your support!
Manny Goldstein June 28, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Ms. Swiston: Are you a Republican?
Manny Goldstein June 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM
If elected, what are some specific changes that you would seek to make in the way our our state operates?
Greer Tan Swiston June 29, 2012 at 12:39 PM
@Manny, a consistent focus I have is to bring more visibility into the Government process. I think it would make the Government more accountable, encourage us to be more helpful as citizens and enable more people to potentially envision themselves participating more in Government. When I first came onto the Board of Alderman, I was truly astounded at how much information was given to the Alderman, but not shared with the public especially given the technological resources we had today. I pushed to have our Friday Packets made available online and the current Mayor and Board leadership have taken that idea and truly made a useful resource to anyone interested in keeping up with the Board. It has been my experience that much of what the public perceives as Government secretiveness is primarily rooted in old fashioned practices. The fact that many have been doing this job for so long, it hasn't occurred to them how to adapt to the times. When I first started on the Board, I had a packet of papers delivered to my front door every Friday (that's the Friday packet). I thought this was surely a waste of gas, paper and time (of the auxiliary police who were driving around town making these deliveries) and not scalable (i.e. anyone else who wanted the information). And yes, there is usually a resistance to change. So it takes a fresh perspective to not see it as change, so much as applying experience in a new arena.
Greer Tan Swiston June 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM
My work with the Zoning and Planning Committee (not Land Use) as well as the Public Safety and Transportation Committee (not Traffic Council) has truly shown me the that good planning saves time effort and frustration by either providing necessary tools or simply minimizing issues from occurring and requiring remediation. Recent changes in Zoning Oridinances and Public Safety has significantly reduced the cases before ISD, Land Use and Traffic Council. We still have a lot of work to do, but that is the value of working proactively. Experience with these committees has also given me a lot of insight to the objectives a community would have in the areas of housing, development and transit. However, there is only so much a community can do within the constraints of State regulations and legislation. Much of what needs to be done would have impact across communities and thus NEED to be managed at a level above the individual communities especially in the area of transit, traffic and transportation infrastructure. This is an area for which I believe Newton has a LOT of expertise to offer and more importantly, in which Newton has a LOT at stake. We have so many state owned land, roads and services, we need a legislator that is pro-actively engaging these issues at the State level. That is why I'm running for State Representative.
Manny Goldstein July 01, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Ms Swiston - These sound like reasonable things, but they are fairly general. I was hoping to hear of goals around specific important issues. Frankly though, I'm wondering why you're a Republican, and what effect being a Republican would have on your decision making. It seems to me that Massachusetts, by pretty much any measure, is one of the few best places to live in the US. We have the best public education system in the US, by far, as measured by the nationwide NAEP tests, and international tests show that Mass students rank in the very top echelon, far above the US average. Our crime and poverty rates are low, our health and health care are good. Our own city of Newton is one of the very safest in the country. Massachusetts happens to also be one of the most Liberal states in the country. Looking at other states, it does seem that the most Liberal states consistently perform the best in all measures of standards of living, whereas the most right-wing states fare poorly. Unless my observation is wrong about Liberal values correlating with better standards of living for working folks (and I invite you to provide evidence that I'm wrong here), I'm not sure why voters should chance a vote on someone who embraces a party that wants to go in the other direction. But I'm open to being convinced.
Greer Tan Swiston July 02, 2012 at 03:12 AM
I find it curious to be asked how being Republican influences me. My party does not define me. If anything, I am a piece that defines it. I am who I am. When I turned 18 and registered to vote, I found my natural tendency to favor a government that kept it simple which seemed to coincide more with Republican values. However, I never committed to agree with Republicans all the time. I just find myself agreeing with them more often. I never abdicated my right to continue to think for myself. As for correlations, Massachusetts has the highest concentration of institutions of higher education than pretty much any other state in the country. It has also been a magnet for some of the brightest minds in the world and this continues to feed into itself. I believe this has a lot to do with students ranking in the very top echelon, perhaps more than anything else. Is it that Liberal values result in better standards of living? Or is it that those with better standards of living can afford to have Liberal values? In both cases, one would find one with the other. I do not question your observation of correlation, only the conclusion that you've drawn from the correlation. Voters should chance a vote with someone who is committed to thinking independently based on the situation and information presented and not simply toe a party line. I am that someone. I aim to represent all the people, not just those of one party.
Greer Tan Swiston July 12, 2012 at 05:26 PM
@Kristine I'd be happy to discuss this further with you in person. You can contact me at vote4greer@gmail.com ... all I was trying to express is that there is a question of what came first; what caused what. In either order, the end correlation would be the same. Manny was recommending a course of action based on an assumption of an agreed upon cause and effect and I don't know that we have an agreement there. I would very much like to know what part of the statement didn't sit well with you and endeavor to be more aware in the future, but there was no intent of negativity in my statement of either case.
Marshall Buckley August 15, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Hello Greer - do you have any yard signs available yet?
Greer Tan Swiston August 15, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Yes we do! You can sign up for one at www.vote4greer.com or simply send email to vote4greer@gmail.com with your street address and we'll have one delivered! Thank you for asking!

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