About Bob Rackleff

Bob, at right, and President Jimmy Carter at Habitat for Humanity work site in 1984.

Bob, at right, and President Jimmy Carter at Habitat for Humanity work site in 1984.

At my earliest opportunity, I honored our veterans by becoming one at age 17.  I served our country as an enlisted sailor and naval intelligence officer reservist with a Top Secret clearance for over 22 years.  My final assignment was in a Pentagon unit, where I was managing editor of the Naval Intelligence Quarterly.  I retired in 1983 as a Lieutenant Commander.  I’m a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Jewish War Veterans.

Above, Bob pictured at work in his office at the Department of Energy.

Above, Bob pictured at work in his office at the Department of Energy.

I’ve worked as a speechwriter since 1974, writing for U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter, for U.S. Senator Ed Muskie, four Cabinet Secretaries, two Sub-Cabinet officials, and myself. I also wrote for the Chairman of Time Inc. in New York City, then returned to Tallahassee to help raise my children and work for the next 27 years as a self-employed writer for several dozen corporate and nonprofit client CEOs.

I was Leon County Commissioner 1998-2010, then moved to Washington, D.C., in 2012 as speechwriter for Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and HUD Secretary Julian Castro, returning home to Tallahassee in 2017.

I moved to Tallahassee in 1952 and attended Kate Sullivan Elementary School and Florida High, graduating in 1961. At Florida State University, I earned a bachelor's and master's degree and doctoral studies in history.

I’m married to Esther Moring, a former Army Reserve medic, now a registered nurse and emergency medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders since 1995. I have three grown children. 

Finally, I am well known for my sense of humor. In fact, in our senior year, my Florida High School classmates voted me “8th Best Sense of Humor.” (I made this up, they didn’t elect me anything.)

 

Bob's Values

Everyone deserves decent health care.

Bob's dad, Dr. Melvin Rackleff.

Bob's dad, Dr. Melvin Rackleff.

I learned from my dad, Dr. Melvin Rackleff, what our nation's health care system should be – available to anyone, regardless of income – not the get-rich-quick gaming of taxpayer-financed programs that makes our medical industry system the most expensive, with the sorriest results, in the world. I wear his class ring every day to remind me of how his dedication to decent health care gave people their dignity, and not just better health.

My dad took Hippocrates seriously. He was a general practitioner and only doctor in 1930s Depression-struck Clayton, Ill. He treated everyone in need, whether they could pay or not. His was not charity care – in his mind, it was his duty. Dad had been a U.S. Navy Pharmacist’s Mate (now called Corpsman) in World War I, decided afterwards to become a doctor, and worked his way through Chicago Medical School until he graduated in 1927. Our home in Clayton had no indoor plumbing, a wood stove for cooking, and only partial electricity; we had only one car, which he wore out making house calls.

After serving his community for 15 years, dad was drafted in 1942 as a U.S. Army doctor and served in field hospitals in England during World War II, part of the effort to treat the mass casualties from the invasion of France and drive toward Germany. He stayed in the Army until retiring in 1958, then was a Veterans Administration doctor in Winston-Salem, NC for the next 10 years. 

He died at age 95. He was a healer and a good provider, but never expected to get rich.  

Let’s get smart about growing good jobs.

I was a corporate executive and consultant for most of my working life, where I learned important lessons about how our national and global economies work – and how North Florida working families can get and keep good jobs with a future. I know that people here want to be productive members of their communities. As a Leon County Commissioner, I supported cost-effective job-creating projects and opposed special interest-supported corporate welfare of little value. I will do the same in Congress.

Government must work for working families.

Serving with them for over seven years, my fellow enlisted sailors taught me a lot about the challenges that working families face as they try to build a future for themselves. Moreover, because of my experience in government at all levels and in corporate executive suites, I have a unique understanding of economic development, job creation, fiscal discipline and competing in the global economy.  

I helped balance the Leon County budget every year, 1998-2010, while maintaining quality services and no net tax increases. When I left office in 2010, Leon County had the fourth-lowest per capita operating budget among all of Florida’s 67 counties.  My solid record of accomplishments as Leon County Commissioner demonstrates realism, dedication to the public interest, job growth, honesty, commitment to justice and fair play, and fiscal discipline – serving working families, not the special interests.

A wise man once said, “I don’t want government to solve my problems. I want government to understand my problems.” That has long been my personal guide.  

Patriotism in deed

Bob's Naval Recruit Training class, pictured in 1961.

Bob's Naval Recruit Training class, pictured in 1961.

I honored our veterans by becoming one.  

I served our country as an enlisted sailor and naval intelligence officer reservist for over 22 years, the last 10 in a reserve unit working directly with the Director of Naval Intelligence. I’m a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Jewish War Veterans.

I needed my mother’s written permission at age 17 to enlist and left for boot camp a week after graduating from Florida High in 1961. After boot camp, I was a drilling reservist while an undergraduate at Florida State University, then served on active duty 1965-67 aboard the USS Terrebonne Parish (LST-1156), operating in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.

Returning to Tallahassee, I earned a direct commission as an Ensign, Naval Intelligence reserves. I held a Top Secret security clearance while drilling in a Pentagon reserve unit and pursuing my civilian career in Washington, D.C., and New York City. My final assignment was managing editor of the Naval Intelligence Quarterly. I retired in 1983 as a Lieutenant Commander.

Tikkun Olam

I’m an active member of Temple Israel of Tallahassee, a spiritual home that helps me live my faith in God. Central to my faith is tikkun olam, literally “repair the world,” the idea that we are responsible not only for our own spiritual welfare, but also for society at large.

I sing in Temple Israel's choir, where I may not be the best tenor, but I'm the tallest tenor.  My wife Esther is a devout member of First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee. She is always there to remind me how to better serve others. We regularly attend each other’s services.  We say grace at every meal to remind ourselves of our many blessings in life.