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Joe Bock announces candidacy

KAITLYN RABACH | Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Joe Bock, a faculty member in Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health, is seeking to represent Indiana’s second congressional district (which includes St. Joseph County), putting to use his experience responding to crises around the world.

Bock, who previously served as the director of global health training at Notre Dame’s Eck Institute and director of external relations at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, announced his candidacy for the congressional seat Nov. 4. He is seeking the Democratic nomination and hopes to replace incumbent Republican Jackie Walorski.

In his written announcement, Bock said he wants to challenge Walorski because he thinks she votes based on partisan politics, a growing problem in Washington.

“In times of crisis, you don’t have time to consider the politics of those you’re trying to help or worry about your own agenda,” he said. “I’m frustrated with politicians in Washington, including our Congresswoman [Rep. Walorski], who are refusing to put aside their differences so they can govern effectively. If there is one place in the world right now that needs conflict resolution, it’s Washington, D.C.”

While serving in the Missouri state legislature from 1986 to 1992, Bock said he found people were more interested in finding pragmatic solutions than in resorting to particular political ideologies.

Bock said the same cannot be said for Congress, especially in the aftermath of the recent government shutdown.

“[The government shutdown] is symptomatic of the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., that needs to be rectified, needs to be fixed, by people who are able to be problem solvers rather than getting involved in partisan theatrics,” Bock said.

Much of Bock’s research as an academic has been centered on the study of violence prevention, he said. This research has taught him the importance of early warning and early response efforts.

“A lot of times, problems can be best solved if you respond to them before they become a major disaster,” Bock said. “I think that is true with governing as well. When there are major warning signs of a problem and you can offer a solution in a timely way, then you can be much more cost- effective in going about dealing with certain problems.”

Bock has eight years of work experience with Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore, Islamabad, Pakistan and Jerusalem. He said he has been involved with conflict resolution for some time and right now there is a need for conflict resolution in Washington.

“The vast majority of my career has been focused on service – as a legislator, as a humanitarian worker and a trainer of people who are going to work in some of the toughest places in the world and with my background in crisis response,” Bock said. “I feel like the best place I can focus my efforts on right now is on the crisis in Washington, D.C., in trying to make our government work again for the people of Northern Indiana.”

This is not the first time Bock has taken a leave of absence from the University. In 2010, Bock left to work for the American Refugee Committee in Haiti.

“They had a need for someone to go down and help them get their program set up in response to the earthquake and because I know how to do that and have done it in a lot of different places around the world, I felt like it was an appropriate thing for me to do,” Bock said. “In a sense, I really wanted to do it because I wanted to help.”

Bock said if he were elected to office, the first issue he would address would be job creation.

“I think the first and foremost [issue to focus on] is to work to get more jobs for people,” Bock said. “The situation we are at right now is that we are at the beginning of recovery from a horrible recession and, as we do that, there are a lot of businesses who have money, who are sitting on the sidelines waiting to invest, and they are not going to until they get a sense of stability. Something like a government shutdown is the inverse of what we need in terms of conveying that stability to those business people.”

Bock, who self-identifies as a pro-life Democrat, said he has been listening to the people of Northern Indiana for the seven years he has been living in the area and they agree with him on the issue of abortion.

“I think that [is] the overwhelming sentiment of the people in Northern Indiana. They come at it from their faith and a substantial amount of them are pro-life, but for me it is an issue of morality,” Bock said. “I do understand where people who are pro-choice are coming from, but I feel that for me there are certain things I can’t do as a legislator, and one of those is compromise my morality.”

Bock, who is involved with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s anti-violence task force and is a member of the safety and security committee of the South Bend School Corporation, said he has received overwhelming support from community members.

“They have been very enthusiastic,” Bock said. “It is amazing the number of people who come up to me and say, ‘Thank you. We are glad we have an incredible candidate to run against [Walorski].'”

Bock said the Notre Dame community has also added a great deal of enthusiasm to the race.

“I need to be clear that I am running as a private individual and not as a representative of Notre Dame, and anything that anybody at Notre Dame does to participate in the campaign is as private individuals,” Bock said. “There is a great deal of enthusiasm among people at Notre Dame – my co-workers, students, etc. We will channel their support in ways that are most effective in winning. We plan to win.”

Contact Kaitlyn Rabach at krabac01@saintmarys.edu