The Tribune gets to know new Wheatfield Supervisor Don MacSwan
By David Yarger
This past summer, former Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Bob Cliffe announced he wouldn't be running for re-election. This decision opened up a seat as the town's supervisor. As with any government job, the supervisor's job is difficult and can be strenuous. People wondered who would step into Cliffe's spot. In comes Don MacSwan.
MacSwan ran unopposed this fall, receiving 99.8 percent (3,007 votes) of the vote from Wheatfield residents. Some Wheatfield residents may ask what MacSwan brings to the table as supervisor of their town.
The Tribune recently sat down with MacSwan to get to know his past experiences in the town, goals for the town, and other various tidbits that would be helpful for residents to be knowledgeable about their new supervisor.
Although MacSwan may be a new name when it comes to the supervisor's position, but he is far from a new name in the town. MacSwan has held several positions in the town; all which he believes has helped him for his duties as supervisor, and he also credits them to why he ran for supervisor.
"This goes back many years ago. I was asked to run for supervisor and at the time I couldn't. ... Then, I was approached again for this year and they asked me, and I've been remarried, so I asked Mary (MacSwan's wife) and I said, 'what do you think?' and she said, 'if it's something you really want to do, do it; go for it.' So, I said, 'okay, I'm going to.'
"So, I told Larry (Helwig) 'I'm in.' The reason behind it is that being involved with Wheatfield, the community and the Wheatfield government; I felt it's almost as if I wanted to pay back.
"(The) Town of Wheatfield has been great to me. I'm not saying that Wheatfield is better than any town around, but I feel in my heart that it is, because they have, to my knowledge, always done what's best for the residents and what's best for the community, and I mean that sincerely. In a nutshell, I'm doing it because I almost feel like there's a responsibility to say 'okay, I want to give back to these guys,'" MacSwan said.
MacSwan also listed several projects he was involved in prior to his election as supervisor, including the Community Center, which he called "his baby" due to his role as project manager over the creation of the center, as well as his dedication to the project, working countless hours to get the center built.
MacSwan was also project manager in getting handicap accessibility to the Town Hall, as well as creating more rooms in the lower level of the building. MacSwan said he was also heavily involved in the development of the parks system in Wheatfield. Along with those duties, MacSwan spent time as the building inspector for the town, and spent time with the highway department, as well.
With prior history working in the departments of the town, MacSwan said he believes his past knowledge of the responsibilities of certain departments is a vital asset in his role as supervisor.
"My knowledge of the workings of the town; all of the departments, because I've been there. I think my relationships with the department heads ... because I know some of the difficult times they go through, too. Highway Department; Paul came up to me the other day and said, 'Don I had an auger go in one of the trucks and it has to be custom made, this one is shot.' Well, I can say, 'Paul, I know that, because I know how they're built.'
"So, I think a good communication with the department heads and if something comes up, I'm hands on. I know the ins and outs of every department, because I've been there. ... I think a good communication, good relationship with all the departments and department heads, and I'm hoping to make it even better, where we have no loss in communication in between any of the departments," MacSwan said.
In his time as supervisor, MacSwan said he's focused on bringing a good attitude to the town, and he believes that will be a key provider to promoting Wheatfield.
Many Wheatfield residents may say MacSwan has big shoes to follow after Cliffe's reign as supervisor. MacSwan praised Cliffe, and said he's been nothing but helpful in his transition into his new role.
"He has a good ability to deal with the public. I think he was fair and he was honest. His honesty and forthcoming with the residents; I know he didn't always agree with the board but, I would say his honesty, his integrity. I like Bob; he's helped me, and he's been more than supportive with me. He made it easy for me to come into here," MacSwan said.
MacSwan said he was born in Canada, but moved to Colonial Village as a young child. After living in Sanborn, MacSwan moved into Wheatfield around age 19, and after time in the Army, he remained in Wheatfield. MacSwan is also a graduate of Niagara-Wheatfield High School.
In his time in the Army, MacSwan spent time in Vietnam, earning two purple hearts, a bronze star, a flight metal for combat service in helicopters and an Army certificate of networthiness for heroism. MacSwan also said he was wounded in combat, along with others, but he helped evacuate the wounded until everyone was safe.
When MacSwan isn't swarmed with work, he said he's an avid hunter, loves collecting old and modern toy trains, and driving his old 1944 "hot rod," 1953 Chevy pickup truck and his motorcycle. MacSwan said hunting gives him the best joy, saying, "It brings you closer to nature and closer to God."
Lastly, MacSwan delivered a message to the residents of Wheatfield, and really what to expect from his as supervisor.
"I'm going to try to be fair; help when I can and be available for the residents and if there's a Wheatfield person that can be helped through the town, I'll do it and do what I can to help people out," MacSwan said. "I'll try to make myself available, pretty much on a daily basis. ... I'm enjoying it and I feel up to the challenge."