Independent county commission candidate will be on November ballot

Tuesday, August 19, 2008
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Rock Finch finished a call Monday, April 7, 2008, at his Cape Girardeau insurance office.
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Rock Finch finished a call Monday, April 7, 2008, at his Cape Girardeau insurance office.

Cape Girardeau voters will have a choice in November when they select the next District 2 county commissioner.

Rock Finch, an insurance broker and consultant, turned in enough signatures to place his name on the ballot as an independent candidate. Finch will face incumbent Republican Jay Purcell, who is seeking his second term in the seat that represents most of the voters inside the city limits of Cape Girardeau.

Finch, who needed 318 signatures from registered voters, turned in 432 signatures, said Kara Clark, Cape Girardeau County clerk. He will be the only independent candidate for a local office on the ballot.

Finch began his petition campaign in June, after serious differences between Purcell and his two colleagues, Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones and District 1 Commissioner Larry Bock, became a public feud. Purcell is suing the commission over alleged Sunshine Law violations; Bock and Jones voted to strip Purcell of most of his duties; and Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle brought a special prosecutor into the picture to consider misdemeanor charges against Purcell for recording closed meetings.

Finch said Tuesday his timing had less to do with the commission controversy than a turning point in his business life that occurred June 1. His firm, Finch Marbanks Insurance Consultants, purchased two St. Louis brokerage offices and merged with a Springfield firm, and he plans to divest himself of the business.

He said he began considering the contest when he heard about a possible independent bid by former commissioner Joe Gambill. "The timing was there to divest myself, and I saw an opportunity to give people a choice in November."

A call to Gambill and a few other area notables convinced him the support was there for the race, Finch said. He announced Tuesday that lawyer David Limbaugh will be his campaign treasurer, with Mike Woelk and Jo Boettscher serving as campaign co-chairs.

Purcell issued a statement Tuesday afternoon welcoming Finch to the race.

"I congratulate Rock Finch and Morley Swingle for successfully campaigning to get an independent candidate on the ballot for the Cape Girardeau County Commission 2nd District seat which I currently am elected to," Purcell said. "We already know that because of Commissioner Bock's retirement that we will have a new independent commissioner to take his place. That makes the commissioners race in Cape Girardeau a pivotal one that will tip the balance of power. I look forward to making the case to the citizens of Cape Girardeau that a vote for Jay Purcell will finally allow for county government to do the work of our citizens in a fair, open, transparent manner."

For updates, check back at semissourian.com or read Wednesday's Southeast Missourian.

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