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The Journal Gazette

  • With supporters gathered at his southwest Fort Wayne home, Rich Beck announces Thursday his plans to run for Allen County commissioner. (Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette)

Friday, November 03, 2017 1:00 am

Bank executive to run for commissioner

Rich Beck also heads redevelopment panel

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

Standing at his southwest Fort Wayne home in front of a red barn near his family's grazing horses, Rich Beck announced Thursday he is running to become the Republican candidate for Allen County commissioner in next May's primary.

Now president of the Allen County Redevelopment Commission, Beck, 65, said his work for 40 years in banking and the private sector positions him well to scrutinize county spending and investment in economic development projects.

His most recent job is as senior vice president of STAR Financial Bank in Fort Wayne. He will continue in that role until next November, when, if he is elected, he plans to retire from the bank, he said in an interview with The Journal Gazette after the announcement.

Beck was joined by several Republican county officials, including Commissioner Nelson Peters and Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux. Beck has been a reserve sheriff's deputy for 40 years and now is deputy chief of operations.

Neither of the two other Republican commissioners, Linda Bloom and Therese Brown, attended. They were both ill, Beck said after the announcement. Bloom sent a statement of support that Beck read at the event. He told The Journal Gazette that Brown also supports his candidacy.

He added that he called Bloom when he was exploring his candidacy, and she told him she was not running. “I told her I would not run against her. I would not run against Linda,” Beck said.

Bloom, 76, became the first woman elected county commissioner in 1994 and is in her sixth consecutive term. But her service in the last year or so has been plagued by injury and illness.

Beck said he also would keep his position as redevelopment commission president through next year, a position he has held for 10 of his 13 years on the commission. He possibly could retain a seat if elected, because commissioners can nominate three members of that board, said Beck, who also has served on the Allen County Economic Development Commission.

“The work he did during the Great Recession and coming out of that was just tremendous” in positioning the county to attract industries now, said Ric Zehr, a real estate developer and member of the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District board who supports Beck.

As a banker, Beck knows how “to analyze the deals,” Zehr said. “He really has a high-level, strategic view of economic development.”

Beck said he would “focus on positivity” and “fiscal responsibility” during his campaign and that he has support of the Allen County Republican Party and its chairman, Steve Shine.

Although Beck is running to represent the 3rd District, he can receive votes from anyone in the county who chooses to vote in the Republican primary.

Beck said he did not know of anyone else who was running for the Republican nomination for commissioner. The opening day for major-party candidates to file for the May 8 primary is Jan. 10; the deadline is noon Feb. 9.

rsalter@jg.net