Lynch plans for quiet exit as New Hampshire governor
CONCORD, N.H. -- John Lynch -- a people person’s governor by his own description -- plans a quiet retirement out of the public eye, but not away from the state he loves.
The 60-year-old Democrat leaves office Jan. 3 when another Democrat, Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan, is sworn in to succeed him. Lynch told The Associated Press he will not speak out on issues, lobby or do anything that interferes with Hassan’s opportunity to govern in her own style.
Lynch said he does not know what he will do next though Dartmouth College has asked him to teach. He said he may develop a course building on three classes he taught at the college over the past few months on the differences and similarities between heading a business and governing the state.
Lynch, a former businessman, said he also may serve on corporate or nonprofit boards.
"My goal as ex-governor is to ... have a very low profile," said Lynch.
Lynch said his only advice to Hassan is to be bipartisan and to be centrist.
"I think people want their governor and Legislature to be moderate and balanced. They don’t like extremes," he said.
For the past eight years, Lynch has faced floods, ice and wind storms, an earthquake, a recession and weathered a Republican sweep in the 2010 election of New Hampshire’s top political offices. His popularity remained so high that Hassan campaigned that she would lead in Lynch’s footsteps.
"Her style will be different. She’s got to figure out how she wants to be governor," said Lynch.
If Hassan were to emulate Lynch, she would find herself with a list on her desk -- as he does -- of the daily schedule of fourth grade elementary classes visiting the Statehouse. Lynch has greeted every class possible and when he misses them, he tries to visit their schools.
"I’m a people person. I need to be with people. It is an important part of my being governor," he said.
Five years ago, someone came up to him in Goffstown and asked for help with a septic system problem.
"Probably only in New Hampshire do you ask the governor for help with your personal septic system," he said.
Lynch put the person in touch with someone who resolved the problem.
Lynch doesn’t see his legacy in the legislation that passed -- and he lists no laws when asked -- so much as the caring he brought to the job.
"I’d like people to think I really worked hard to bring people together to solve problems," he said.
The residents of Alstead found that out in October 2005 when a flood killed four people and caused several million dollars in damages to the area. It was the first weather-related disaster of several to face Lynch. He had never had to deal with anything like it in business.
He was in Germany on a trade mission for the state when the flood swept through town. He had just landed in Berlin and within an hour boarded a plane home, leaving first lady Susan Lynch behind, accidentally taking her luggage and clothes with him.
Some advised him to manage the recovery from Concord.
Instead, Lynch went to the Alstead fire station. He gave his personal cellphone number to any who asked.
"I learned the importance of going where the problem was," he said.
As he leaves office, he isn’t dwelling on what didn’t get done, though he wishes a project to widen Interstate 93 had been completed. He points to a replaced bridge on the Spaulding Turnpike as an example of an accomplishment. The bridge had been temporarily fixed in 1992 with wood pilings that had since slipped off kilter. The repair had been meant to last a year, not 20 years. The replacement and improvements to the road completed this year will open economic development to the area, he said.
Lynch does not plan on running for political office again or operating a business outside New Hampshire. He has no interest in living or working in Washington, D.C.
His passion is education.
He would like to use his unique knowledge of both government and business to help business be more aggressive in getting public colleges and technical schools to produce the workers they need to prosper. He might be able to do that as a member of a corporate board offering advice to the company’s head, he said. He would tell them to do what he has done -- develop relationships with the people who can make things happen.
What he will miss most when he leaves office are the people -- especially greeting the fourth graders.
"I am going to go into withdrawal. I am going to have to go find a parade (to march in) Jan. 4," he said and laughed.
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