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After resignation, Sen. Brock reflects on time in N.C. Senate

By Josh Bergeron
josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — In his final days of college, Andrew Brock recalls being unsure if he wanted to become involved in politics, but a conversation with his father likely eliminated any doubt.

Andrew Brock’s late father Rufus, long active in Davie County politics, called his son just before final exams at Western Carolina University. During the conversation, Rufus asked whether Andrew had any interest in politics or running for elected office.

“No, I don’t,” Brock recalls telling his father. “I see the ugly side of politics. People attack you for your beliefs, and there’s things they say about you. They drag your name through the mud.”

Brock, a Republican, had served as the student body president at Western Carolina University but wasn’t sure if he wanted to run for office after graduation.

“He said, ‘Son, you know what to do. You know how to do the right thing and you’ll do right by the people,’” Brock recalls his father saying.

It was the last conversation Brock had with his dad, who had been struggling with health problems.

Almost 20 years since that conversation, Brock resigned from his 34th Senate District seat last week after being appointed to the state’s Board of Review, which sits within the N.C. Department of Commerce and Division of Employment Security. The board makes decisions on unemployment benefit claim appeals.

Brock served for more than 14 years in the N.C. Senate.

He started running for political office at the age of 25 and won his first race in 2002, at the age of 28.

When he took his seat in the N.C. Senate for the first time, Brock requested the last one in the chamber — seat No. 50. In 2003, Brock told the Salisbury Post that the benefits of such a seat included: a great vantage point, being closest to the exit stairwell and sitting next to the Senate chaplain.

During his time as a state senator, Republicans have been the majority and minority party. Brock has served in the N.C. Senate under Republican and Democratic governors.

His time in the N.C. General Assembly officially ended on Friday, when he turned in a letter of resignation. He was appointed to the Board of Review as part of House Bill 256, which contained many appointments to state boards and commissions.

State law provides the governor with the first opportunity to appoint someone to the Board of Review, but Gov. Roy Cooper did not submit a name to the General Assembly by a deadline, spokesman Ford Porter said. Instead, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger made the appointment.

Brock said Berger asked him on Tuesday at lunchtime about his interest in a Board of Review spot. Brock said accepting Berger’s offer was difficult. Brock said he accepted the offer, in part, because he believes the General Assembly is headed in the right direction. On the Board of Review, he will also have a regular schedule, and Brock said that would allow him to spend more time with his family.

In the new job, he’ll make more than $120,000, according to a 2016 General Assembly report. Officially, Saturday was Brock’s first day, but he won’t report to work until after the July 4 holiday.

Working with people from across North Carolina and implementing policies that improved people’s daily lives rank as Brock’s favorite things about serving in the legislature.

A 2013 measure known as Senate Bill 98 ranks as one of Brock’s favorite bills he’s worked on. It established screening measures for newborns with congenital heart disease. Another bill Brock mentioned passed in 2011 and established a birth certificate for stillborn babies.

“It was about people losing their children and giving them some type of closure not just ‘here’s a death certificate on your way out of the hospital,” Brock said.

He’s been the primary sponsor of bills that became law and related to: roadside campaign signs, annexation and deannexation, abolishing certain state boards and commissions, repealing requirements for crossbow permits, regulatory reform and the privacy of student records.

He was the second primary sponsor of a 2011 bill that drew congressional district maps. Last year, those maps were struck down by federal courts because two of the congressional districts were deemed racial gerrymanders. Similarly, Brock was the second primary sponsor of a bill that drew state senate districts following the 2010 census. Those senate districts have also been struck down by courts.

He’s supported measures that would: constitutionally cap the maximum income tax rate, constitutionally guarantee the right to hunt and fish, allow people to carry a concealed handgun on educational and church property, lower renewable energy standards for electric companies and lower the bar for the formation of new political parties.

Brock said he’ll miss being around the North Carolina General Assembly and working with senators of both parties because the N.C. Senate has been a major part of his life — even before he was elected. He worked there as a 20-year-old student.

He wouldn’t rule out running for political office in the future, but Brock joked that he’d need to convince his wife before starting any future campaign for elected office.

Brock also hesitated to say whether there’s anyone he prefers to fill his vacant senate seat.

“I don’t really know who all out there is interested. I’m sure it’ll be an interesting process,” he said. “I’ll help whoever it ends up being as much as possible and help them get up to speed as much as possible.”

Brock’s seat will be filled by the executive committees of the Republican parties in Rowan, Davie and Iredell counties. However, only those executive committee members who live in the 34th Senate District will have a vote. It’s unclear when that process may begin.

Already, a number of local Republicans have begun speculating who might be interested in the vacant seat.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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