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Lower Swatara has interim manager: Lynch is also president of Susquehanna Township board

By David Barr, davidbarr@pressandjournal.com
Posted 8/4/17

Lower Swatara Township has a new interim manager, and he is someone very knowledgeable in the workings of local government.

The board of commissioners unanimously approved Frank Lynch to the role …

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Lower Swatara has interim manager: Lynch is also president of Susquehanna Township board

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Lower Swatara Township has a new interim manager, and he is someone very knowledgeable in the workings of local government.

The board of commissioners unanimously approved Frank Lynch to the role of interim township manager at its workshop meeting Wednesday, Aug. 2. Lynch, 60, has been a member of the Susquehanna Township Board of Commissioners since 2002 and now serves as its president.

He will hold the Lower Swatara position on a month-to-month basis, at a salary of $6,000 a month. He officially begins Monday, Aug. 7.

“I’ve always been around local government. I live and breathe it,” Lynch said.

The township is looking to replace Frank Williamson Jr., whose last day as manager was Friday, July 28. He announced that he was leaving the position after three months on the job to spend more time with his family.

He had been the township’s public safety director since August 29, 2016. He was also the assistant township manger while serving as the public safety director. Lower Swatara officials are searching for the fifth township manager since 2012, and also have not filled the position of public safety director.

Interest at a young age

Lynch was attracted to local government after seeing his father, Jack, run for Harrisburg mayor in 1967, losing to Al Straub. His father later was a member of the Susquehanna Township board as well.

A rat bite led Lynch’s father to run for Harrisburg mayor, as Lynch’s younger brother suffered the injury after playing in a garbage-strewn alley because trash was sporadically picked up. Watching and helping his father run political campaigns spawned a love of local government in Lynch.

“I watched him take calls from neighbors about speeding in the neighborhood, barking dogs, that sort of thing, and I loved the passion with which he addressed them,” Lynch said of his father’s role on the Susquehanna Township board. “Seemingly mundane things like that, he loved it, and I watched that and saw him take so much satisfaction out of that. It was something I grew up around.”

Lynch worked in various roles for Comcast (and Suburban Cable before that) before retiring in 2015 after six years as vice president of government affairs. His roles included helping customers in 110 municipalities. Lynch said he also wanted to help his neighbors out, so he received permission from his bosses at Comcast to run for a vacancy on the Susquehanna Township board of commissioners in 2001.

“I enjoy local government, I love its issues and challenges. I’ve always liked helping out my neighbors however I could, but I really enjoy trying to make government work better for people and that’s what drove me,” Lynch said.

Lynch’s other positions over the years include working at the Patriot-News in Harrisburg from 1979 to 1987, serving as deputy press secretary to Gov. Robert P. Casey in 1990 and 1991, and working in various press secretary roles for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry from 1987 to 1995.

Getting started right away

While he doesn’t officially begin until Monday, Lynch has already been ingratiating himself to his coworkers and residents, as he has already moved into his new office, met the department heads, and is getting a jump on the paperwork and other information pertinent to his role.

“I’m not approaching this as an interim thing in the sense that I’m just being a placeholder. I am an interim, but you can’t approach it with that mindset. I take a lot of pride in what I do for Susquehanna Township and I’m happy to apply that same pride and determination to Lower Swatara Township,” Lynch said.

A combination of factors led Lynch to apply for the position. He was available, he had a love of local government and “I really love the chance to make a difference wherever I am in whatever job I’ve ever held,” he said.

“I’ve been involved in every aspect of municipal government; budget, administration, personnel, highways, and I’m also an appointed member of the township authority, which runs the wastewater collection system,” Lynch said. “I have a lot of local government experience in a first-class township just like Lower Swatara is. I know how to get things done, I know the processes, and as the board conducts its search for a permanent manager, I’m happy to lend my talents on the interim basis on which I was appointed. I think I bring a certain amount of background experience. I’ve been around local government, I’ve dealt with people, I’ve managed teams throughout my career. As a commissioner myself in another township, I think I have a unique perspective on that mix of political will and government governance with actually implementing that political vision that comes from a board of commissioners. It just seemed like a good fit for me.”

Lynch said he heard about the vacancy from Gary Myers, the former Susquehanna Township manager and current executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Government. Lynch met with board members on Monday, July 24, and the board offered him the position on July 25.

Permanent position?

Lynch said it is too soon to say if he would drop the interim label if the board asked him to take the role full-time, but he knows of the recent history with the position.

“I am very much aware of the need for some continuity and I just want to do whatever I can to keep the trains running around here.”

He’s looking forward the most to being able to make a difference. “I’m looking forward to leading a team that will carry out the wishes of the commissioners which is to provide a continued great place, a great community to live and work.”

No comment by the board

There was no discussion by the board during the meeting prior to the approval of hiring Lynch. Board President Jon Wilt said he needed a motion to approve the hiring of Lynch if the board was comfortable with what had been negotiated prior to Wednesday night.

The motion was made by Commissioner Todd Truntz and seconded by Commissioner Michael Davies. There was no discussion about Lynch becoming the manager full-time.

However, Wilt told the Press & Journal on the afternoon of Aug. 3 that the board would not have selected Lynch for the position if members didn't think he could handle the responsibility. He called Lynch a good fit for the township because he is a commissioner for another township and understands the issues that face any local government.

“We think he’s a worthy person for what we need. We all have a good feeling about this guy,” Wilt said.

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