A sunny outlook
– Riverview Register
Andrew Swift sees good things in Riverview’s future as he begins his second term in a position he didn’t necessarily seek, but has come to embrace as a way to do some good for a place he cares deeply about.
The 1973 Riverview Community High School graduate and (mostly) lifelong city resident has been involved in local politics since 1993, when he made an unsuccessful run for the Riverview Board of Education. He ran again for the board and won in 1994, serving until 2002 before losing a re-election bid.
Turns out it was just a temporary setback for the longtime civil servant.
“Not getting re-elected to the school board was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Swift said.
It cleared the way for him to seek and win a seat on the City Council in 2005, where he learned the municipal machinations alongside former colleagues from his days in the Riverview Jaycees.
In 2013, longtime former Mayor Tim Durand decided against seeking another term and asked Swift if he would consider making a bid for the city’s top job.
To do that, Swift had to resign the council seat he recently won so he could take over as mayor when Durand’s term expired in 2015.
Swift hasn’t looked back since.
He has been involved in various community groups since 1988 and was drawn into local politics because of concerns about how elementary school closings in the district would affect his sons. Swift believes it’s better to try to get involved in how such decisions get made than to stand on the sidelines or in the audience at meetings and complain.
“That way, maybe you get something you want and the city gets what it needs,” he said.
As Swift’s second term begins, those needs include whether or how to expand the city’s landfill operations, as well as dealing with public safety staffing issues. The latter, he said, have arisen because of better economic conditions.
“One side effect of a fully employed economy is that people go where the money is,” Swift said. And because that typically doesn’t include police and firefighter jobs, officials will have to consider raising wages to attract those workers, especially firefighters, who in Riverview are part-time.
Those decisions will be complicated by the fact that the city is in the final year of a four-year labor contract.
“You could look at it as us being four years behind,” Swift said.
Another idea he plans to pursue in his new term is attracting new business to the city’s golf course. That may take the form of holding concerts or car shows on the course in order to interest a broader clientele.
“We want to get more people out to the course, but if you can’t get ‘em one way, maybe you get ‘em another way,” Swift said.
His first term saw several successes, including an expanded Summerfest after officials were forced to cancel it for several years because of the 2008 recession. Officials now are looking to add shuttle buses for the annual celebration and also are seeking sponsorships for winter fireworks in 2020.
Last year’s winter-related activities also saw increased participation, as some 3,000 attended the 2019 Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, forcing police to close the entrance to Young Patriots Park because all the parking spaces were taken.
That figure is even more impressive, Swift said, when one considers that Riverview has just 12,000 residents.
“Almost everybody in town was there,” he said with a smile.
Swift has had additional reasons to smile during his time as mayor.
Some 16 businesses have come to the city in the last four years — “not because of me,” he is quick to point out — and many have approached him about ways they can give back to the city and its residents. He’s planning to see if some of them might be willing to do so by sponsoring city events and activities.
Additionally, the Ash Stevens pharmaceutical facility in the industrial part of town expanded a couple of years ago, adding about 70 jobs.
All told, Swift said it’s been a pretty good run as mayor, and though it’s still early in his second term with plenty of things to see through, retirement might be in the offing in four years — provided a properly qualified successor emerges.
“I’ve had to plan vacations around City Council meetings, and while that’s worked out, I’d like to be able to spend some time with my grandkids,” he said. Swift won’t disappear entirely from the civic scene, however, and likely will continue working with the city’s Kiwanis Club, whose mission he regards highly.
In the meantime, he advised anyone who might aspire to a city government post to start at the commission level like he did.
“That way you can get the background information on what’s going on in the city,” Swift said. “It teaches you how to make something happen instead of just waiting for it to happen.”
Andrew Swift at a glance
- Retired in 2007 as systems analyst / data manager at Ford Motor Co.
- Married to Darlene for 44 years, sons Aaron and Paul
- Lost bid for Board of Education in 1993
- Elected to Board of Education in 1994
- Re-elected to Board of Education in 1998
- Lost bid for Board of Education in 2002
- Elected to City Council in 2005
- Re-elected to City Council in 2009
- Re-elected to City Council in 2013
- Elected mayor in 2015
- Re-elected mayor in 2019
- Officer of Riverview Board of Education for seven of eight years (1994-2002); positions included treasurer, secretary, vice president and president.
- School board liaison to Riverview City Council (2000-2002).
- Member of City/School Joint Venture Projects Committee (1996-2002)
- Riverview Zoning Board of Appeals (2003-2005)
- Riverview Recreation Commission (2003-2005)
- Riverview Beautification Commission (2003-2005)
- Riverview Little League Baseball assistant coach (Pre 1989)
- Riverview Jaycees (1988-1995), vice-president community development
- Cub Scout leader (1989-1993)
- Boy Scouts (1993-2001)
- Riverview Playscape Committee (1994) (Friends of the Park chairman)
- Blue Ribbon Bond Committee (school district) (1993)
- Michigan Association of School Boards Certified Board Member (1995-2002)
- National Association of School Boards affiliate member (1994-2002)
- Committee Member of Heritage River Fall Classic Regatta (timing tech)
- Current positions
- Riverview Economic Development and Brownfield Authority Committee member
- Riverview Ad Hoc Civil Engineering Committee member
- Riverview Ad Hoc Environmental Engineering Committee member
- Riverview Ad Hoc Riverview Highlands Facilities Committee member
- Riverview Land Preserve Committee member
- Southeast Michigan Community of Governments Executive Board member
- Southeast Michigan Community of Governments Economic Development Strategy Task Force member
- Downriver Community Conference board member
- Downriver Mutual Aid board member
- Eucharistic minister at St. Cyprian Parish
- Member, Wyandotte Boat Club
- Secretary, Mighty Oaks Investment Club
- Rain Magnets Hiking Club
- Ford Motorcycle Club
- Kiwanis of Riverview, former president and current Board of Directors member
- Riverview Goodfellows member (former president)
- Ford Employee Recreation Associations volunteer
- Riverview Veterans Memorial Committee member