Democrat challenges Republican for county office

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Frank Rock Jr.

HANCOCK COUNTY – Frank Rock Jr. would be a newcomer to the county’s fiscal leadership, but he’s no stranger to government accounting.

The U.S. Department of Defense retiree is running on the Democratic ticket for Hancock County Council District 2. He faces Republican incumbent Mary Noe in the upcoming general election.

District 2 is in the western, northwestern and central parts of the county.

Rock is a Louisiana native and a U.S. Air Force Vietnam War-era veteran. He worked for the DOD for over 30 years. The department transferred him to its hub in Marion County from Virginia in the early 2000s. He worked in accounts maintenance and control, accounts payable and audit readiness.

“A numbers person, basically,” he said.

He said the experience prepared him well for a seat on the seven-member county council, which oversees county government finances.

“You’re managing the flow of funds – public funds,” he said.

In his case, when he worked for the federal government, the funds were allocated by Congress to the DOD, U.S. military branches and global war on terrorism.

Rock was active in union leadership during his time with the DOD, including as council president for the Defense Finance Accounting Service’s locations across the country. His responsibilities included overseeing contracts and negotiations for working conditions for thousands of employees.

After moving to Hancock County, he grew disappointed after being unable to start a dialogue with local elected leadership, which motivated him to pursue a place in that leadership.

Rock lives in the Autumn Woods neighborhood in western Buck Creek Township and serves as president of the community’s homeowners association.

If elected, he wants to encourage the development of more shopping options, especially for people in the western part of the county, whom he said often venture outside the county for groceries and other errands.

“That would be my objective – try to arrange and influence building where we can keep some of that money in Hancock County, or the majority of it in Hancock County,” Rock said.

Hancock County currently has three public libraries, and its growing population would benefit from more, he continued.

“Public education, libraries and recreation are key as far as having incentives for those families who are moving in and for those families who are already here,” he said.

The county continues to see rapid industrial development, especially in the council district he seeks to represent, via the dozens of large buildings designed for logistics purposes that have been built, are being built and are planned. Rock said he supports industrial development, but feels the current leadership isn’t evaluating it closely enough and has been too accommodating with tax breaks for such projects.

“Economic growth is excellent,” he said. “I encourage it, I advocate for it and I’m for it all. But you’ve got to look at all the pros and cons of it also and address each one of those areas.”

Rock estimates many employees working at those businesses likely commute from Marion County, and he supports establishing public transportation between there and Hancock County for them to get to work, which officials have been exploring.

But that also prompts a need to focus more on residential development, he continued, to give workers an opportunity to live in Hancock County.

“They’re working in Hancock, but they’re taking their paychecks and their taxes back into Marion County,” he said.