My Governing Philosophy

Updated June 2024 [from the original posting of March 2021]

First point, up front:

If you’re seeking a servant on the Enfield Town Board who has an answer to every question; a policy paper for every predicament, please look elsewhere.  I am not the person you want. I’m not the one who’ll satisfy your chosen wish.

Rather, I’m a Town Councilperson who relies upon you, my constituents, to give me the direction I seek; to set the priorities that matter; to instruct me in the best ways to put your needs first.  It’s not that I lack my own ideas.  To the contrary, I have plenty of them.  Rather, my belief in Old-Fashioned Representative Democracy demands that I first I listen to you, to sense what you—the people I serve, both individually and collectively—want from an effective leader in Enfield Town Government, and to recognize your preferences before I proceed to chart my own chosen course.

As I see it, there are two types of political leaders: the Activist, and the Non-activist.  To paint upon that latter category a more positive impression, I’ll call its members “Inclusionists.”   It’s within that latter group that I find myself.  I’m an Inclusionist.

In my view, the Activist places his or her agenda first.  It may be a worthy agenda; it may be socially responsible and what’s truly best for the community and for each of us who populate it.  But it’s the agenda that drives the person and her mission.  It’s what makes her commit the time, toil and money to wage her campaign and to win.  And it’s what motivates her as she subsequently represents her (often, like-minded) constituents in the halls of government.  There’s nothing wrong with the Activist’s perspective, providing, of course, that everyone understands the candidate’s (or lawmaker’s) limitations.  She may represent some constituents very well, but others not so much, if at all.

The Inclusionist, on the other hand, takes his marching orders from the People he serves.  Whereas the Activist seeks most fervently to push the electorate toward the candidate’s point of view, the Inclusionist turns to his or her constituents and asks them to push that candidate to their, the voters’, point of view.  That’s the position I take.  So long as the public’s preferred path lies within the bounds of the Constitution, the laws, fairness, and good Common Sense, I welcome the prodding that each of you provide.

Of course, to paraphrase Lincoln, you can’t please all of the People all of the time.  There may be times when our Town of Enfield finds public opinion divided right down the middle.  And at other uncertain moments, I, as your elected Councilperson, may not know where the preponderance of public opinion truly stands.  That’s why outreach and communication mean so very much to me.  The more you talk with me, and the more I talk with you, the better informed we’ll each be, and the better I can represent you in the halls of Enfield Town Government.

I like to say, “We who govern are servants, not kings.”  I mean it.  It’s the governing North Star that guides me.  To me, responsible governance springs from the bottom up.  It does not lord from the top down.  You are the king, not me.  We who serve must humble ourselves to those we represent.

If I become a maverick at times on the Enfield Town Board—and trust me, I have; and you know when I have—it’s because I sense that one or more of my respected colleagues has strayed from the majority preferences of this community.  In some instances, I may be proven wrong.  And if I am wrong and others are right, I will learn the error of my ways in due course.  But I will have spoken, acted and voted on my best information and instincts at the moment.  And the more constructive input I have received from you, our resident constituents, the less likely I will have strayed from majority sentiment.

A typical Town Board meeting, July 2023.

Never let me forget this guiding principle.  Never allow power or arrogance or an absence of will to overtake sound judgment.  And at a moment of forgetfulness or weakness, never let the voices of those who hold the loudest megaphones yet the slimmest support drown out the voices of you, my constituents.   That holds true especially when those holding the megaphones also wield power from positions of authority.

Government, even local town government, can be messy business.  We who govern must make tough decisions.  We must disappoint some.  At times, we may make them angry.  But my role is not to pit one faction over another; not to relish in one person’s victory at another’s expense.  Whenever we can do so, we should compromise; meet in the middle of an important issue. Whether it’s the roads we pave, the community services we fund, the employees we reward, or the symbols we salute at the start of our meetings, half a loaf for each faction stands preferable to rewarding a full loaf for one and not even a crumb for the other.

I have said these words proudly:  We, the people of Enfield, constitute a Glorious Mosaic of Opinion Diversity. Persons like me who have traveled home-to-home during campaigns for office recognize that reality; that beauty.  Because of our diversity, I am not everyone’s favorite Councilperson. A few of you may not like me, and I sincerely regret that.  But I am hired by you, the voters of Enfield, to do a job.  I have an ear to listen, a mind to reason, and a voice to speak.  I most enjoy Town Board meetings when everyone agrees on everything, and we all go home—preferably not too late—each wearing a smile.

Sometimes that happens; other times not.  One can hope we will disagree without being disagreeable.  As I begin my second term on this Town Board, I aspire that in the months and years ahead we can agree more often and disagree with mutual respect when unanimity becomes impossible.  Ours is a good team of leaders.  We’re each smart, informed and principled.  But at times our opinions invariably diverge.  That’s governance.  And that, too, is Enfield.

Constituents tell me that what they like least about Enfield Town Government is the political rancor.  I dislike it, too.  Yet each of us has been elected to the Enfield Town Board to represent our residents’ preferences to the best of our ability.  We should do it while also respecting the minority’s sensibilities. We are elected to do our Town’s business, not to make friends amongst ourselves.  Of course, it’s always best when we can attain both objectives simultaneously.

Always feel free to impose new challenges to me, to turn the wheel of government in a new direction as your own inclinations lead you.  I am your servant.  You are my boss.  Let’s work together as much as we can toward a better community.  Because, truly, We are One Enfield.

Bob Lynch