Updated March 14, 2023:
The following words relate the story of who I am; or more properly put, of the person I consider myself to be.
I first wrote this thumbnail biography when I announced my candidacy for the Enfield Town Board in the spring of 2019. I won that four-year term as Councilperson, my first-ever attempt at public office. In certain ways, it seems so long ago. A pandemic and so much (too much?) local politics have intervened along the way.
Then, two years later, I took a risk. I reached one notch higher. In 2021, I aspired to represent many of you on the Tompkins County Legislature. I lost that legislative race to a fine man, Randy Brown. Yet I consider myself richer for having tried, for having reached for one brass ring I could not grasp. Life makes for learning.
Now, in 2023, I seek your renewed affirmation to serve Enfield on the Town Board of our beloved community. As I see it, I have not changed as the person I am. I’ve only journeyed farther in that twisting pathway called life. So I see little need to amend much of what I first penned four years ago just to wedge it within today’s circumstances. I need only fill in the gaps of this quadrennial moment.
You deserve to know a little bit about the person who represents you now on the Enfield Town Board and the person who now seeks your vote. That’s the reason I’ve written the words you are about to read. I believe every person is unique. I welcome hearing your own unique story. Here is mine:
April 2019; Updated March 2023:
I have always been a country boy. I’ve always called the Finger Lakes my home. I grew up on a 100-acre part-time farm between Phelps and Geneva. When my classmates were playing ball after school, I was plowing fields. I didn’t have to do it; I wanted to. I was given my first 26 chickens at age seven. I raised them all. I had an egg route. In my youth I always wanted to be a farmer, impractical as that was. It wasn’t until college that the radio bug bit me. It changed my life.
I entered Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1968. The infamous Willard Strait Hall take-over was during my freshman year. Student protesters entered the Strait that Saturday morning through the window of WVBR, the student station which accorded me my broadcasting start.
In Cornell, I majored in Agricultural Economics. But mostly, in my upperclass years, my major was WVBR. I was the station’s off-campus reporter, covering virtually every meeting of Ithaca Common Council, the Tompkins County Board of Representatives (now the County Legislature), and also many town boards. I resided for a while in a small Scotty travel trailer that remains to this day at the rear of my Gray Road residence.
My Dad, John—friends called him Johnny—worked for more than two decades at Morse Chain. Johnny was eventually elevated to electrical foreman at Morse’s sprawling South Hill plant. About the time I entered Cornell, Dad commenced building what he called Little Hector, our Gray Road home. I inherited Little Hector from my parents. It’s not quite finished yet.
After Cornell—and WVBR—I transitioned to WTKO, 1470 AM, then Ithaca’s #1 station. I was news director, program director, and eventually operations manager. I take great pride in those TKO years. My sister Marcia and I oversaw a 4-person News Department that covered virtually everything that moved in Tompkins County: county government; the towns; the courts. I supervised WTKO’s air staff, mapped programming strategy, and made WTKO more dominant than it had ever been before. Marcia and I left WTKO in 1981. Marcia later served as an admissions officer at Ithaca College, as volunteer coordinator at the Ithaca Fire Department, and as Tompkins County’s Public Information Officer. She retired as PIO in December 2019.
After a brief tour as an airborne traffic reporter in Rochester, I returned to local employment in 1987. I joined the staff of an Enfield business, Independent Broadcast Consultants, Inc. (IBC) on Podunk Road. Some of you may know my former boss, Bill Sitzman. For many years, he helped us in Enfield vote on Election Day. Bill and I designed the technical facilities for broadcast stations and secured their FCC approvals. I remained at IBC for 25 years. Both at work and at rest, this community, Enfield, is truly my home.
As IBC wound down, I transitioned to paralegal studies. In 2015, I earned my paralegal certificate at TC3 and was honored as the program’s Graduate of Note. I served for a time as a research paralegal with Schlather, Stumbar, Parks and Salk, Ithaca. I’ve since taken as many as seven continuing education courses at Cornell Law School, including courses in Criminal Procedure, Administrative Law and the Death Penalty. Yes, if I had to do it over again, I’d be a lawyer, maybe even a judge. Yet maybe I was meant to serve you just the way I have.
In February of 2019, I sensed my life turning in a new direction, toward local public service. I ran in the Democratic Primary and then the General Election—both of them contested races—and won a seat on the Enfield Town Board. My term of office began in January 2020 and runs through this year, 2023. I’m running for reelection now.
I attempt to find the best qualities in just about everybody I meet. And for purposes here, I will not dwell on the political challenges I’ve encountered from time to time during my tenure these past three years as an Enfield Town Councilperson. Sometimes you need to stand on principle. At others, it’s best to yield to compromise. The balance can be struck on the sharpest of edges. Even though local government can at times be messy, I view reasoned political discourse as Democracy in action.
Since commencing my service as Enfield Councilperson, I’ve made many new friends. I’ve found our community’s dedicated volunteers and the organizations they serve to reflect those Thousands Points of Light that the late President George H.W. Bush often spoke about. Whether at the Enfield Food Pantry, the Fire Company, the Community Council or elsewhere, those who serve us do so much. They, the volunteers, deserve more credit than they receive. We, the Town Politicians, the ones who always seem to capture the headlines, probably receive more of the accolades than we, ourselves, truly earn.
Four years ago, I put my decision to be your Town Councilperson into a couple of sentences. Don’t think of them as self-serving. Truly, they apply to all of us:
“I sense that for each of us there stands a moment, a proper time to lean against the wheel, to put one’s education, life experiences and passion to use for the common good. Each of us should attempt to light one little candle that illuminates the darkness.”
I really hold no regrets in life, even for those things I now believe I might have done differently—done better—had I known the consequences way back then. Here’s one example:
In 2021 I ran for the Tompkins County Legislature. I sought to serve Newfield and Southern Enfield in Legislative District 8. I lost the Democratic Primary. I suspended my campaign shortly thereafter. And my surviving independent candidacy limped into the fall to finish a distant third in November. But I learned from that loss. I learned that service on the Enfield Town Board will probably be the capstone of my political career.
Unless, of course, something new encounters me on my path. I don’t expect it. But life has a way of holding surprises. So maintain an open mind. Never tire. Never give up. And try not to quarrel.
Just as I did with those 26 chickens in 1958, and just as I’ve attempted to do living at Little Hector these past 54 years, I’ll strive to serve your best interests first these next four years if you’ll allow me to do so. Join me on this path, this unfolding journey in mapping Enfield’s future. Because truly, We Are One Enfield.
Hope I meet you on the campaign trail.
Bob Lynch, Enfield Councilperson