The Bethlehem City Council inducted their first Black council member Tuesday, Feb. 15 when South Side Bethlehem native, Lehigh University alum and successful educator Wandalyn Enix was formally introduced.
Enix has taught at Broughal Middle School, Liberty High School, Montclair State University and many other institutions in the tri-state area. When the council position opened she was in retirement writing a book. However, Enix has come out of retirement to serve her community.
“I was writing a history book on the history of Black people in Bethlehem from the perspective of the servants of the big industrialists who settled and started big factories here in Bethlehem,” Enix said.
While teaching urban studies at Nitschmann Middle School, Enix received her master’s degree from Lehigh. She then got her doctorate at Temple University. With her master’s and doctorate degrees, Enix was able to teach in the education department at Montclair State University and work in urban school districts in New Jersey.
After years of experience, she is back in the Lehigh Valley.
“The number one priority of quality-of-life issues in Bethlehem is affordable housing,” Enix said. “I have a niece who wanted to return home to Bethlehem; in all of the homes, she was outbid by somebody. People cannot get entry level homes on the South Side. And this is someone who was born and raised here.”
Affordable housing was discussed in the city council meeting on Tuesday, and Enix was the only council member who voted against new decisions to allow new and taller buildings on the Southside.
Enix said she will implement an ordinance that will try to control the amount of noise pollution in Bethlehem at night.
Esther Lee, the president of NAACP Bethlehem where Enix has formerly been president and is now a member, praised Enix’s desire to help others.
“(Enix) is a student of education. She’s always been wanting to help people to excel. She’s always been a learned individual growing up,” Lee said. “She excelled in every category. I think Wandalyn (Enix) will excel as a councilperson.”
Rachel Leon, a Bethlehem council member, expressed her excitement about Enix’s position because of her ties to the community.
“If you dig back into her life and her history, her connection with the city is intense, and that’s something that we look for,” Leon said. “She has extremely well thought out ideas on things like housing, neighborhood protection and protecting our students. So she just has a world of experience that’s really exciting to have on council.”
Lee said it seemed unachievable for an African American to be elected into the system.
Enix will now join the Bethlehem city council every other Tuesday at town hall for meetings.
“I just want to say it is an honor to sit in this seat. I stand on the shoulders of giants; men and women who will compete for me and men and women who want to serve. I received so many calls, emails, texts, social media, flowers and I’m just so appreciative of everybody.