How would Charlie Baker govern? His stint as a Swampscott selectman may offer some clues.
Two years after Charles Baker left the only elective office he has ever held, that of Swampscott selectman, people in this seaside town of 14,000 recalled him as a somewhat unusual politician for the long, detailed answers he tended to give to even simple questions, and for the intensity with which he listened to just about anyone who spoke with him.
“He never sought the limelight,” said Marc Paster, a former selectman who served alongside Baker on the town board. In Baker’s first and only race, he topped the selectmen’s ticket, receiving 1,840 votes. nearly 600 more than his nearest challenger.
Paster predicted that Baker would focus on solutions to the state’s major problems in his gubernatorial bid, such as the downturn in the economy, and would run an above-the-board campaign. “He’s going to focus on issues that matter to the average person, and those issues run the gamut, from jobs to healthcare to education,” he said.
By nobody’s measure is a part-time selectman in a relatively small community comparable to being the governor of a major industrial state, and certainly the folksy campaign that Baker waged in his Swampscott victory would not work across the breadth of Massachusetts.
And yet, in Baker’s three-year term, from 2004 to 2007, there are hints, broad-brush strokes, of the kind of gubernatorial candidate he may become.
He was, his colleagues on the Board of Selectmen said in interviews this week, inclusive and collaborative. He was a stickler for budget issues. His style was low key. He was not prone to sponsor many motions or to champion many issues.
At this point we know this much: He’ll be better than the current officeholder.