Del. Bill Frank

Republican Del. Bill Frank has made small business and serving his constituents the focus of his three terms in the legislature. (Staff photo by Brian Krista, Baltimore Sun Media Group / June 3, 2014)

Twelve years of standing up for small business, advocating for his 42nd District's constituents and arguing a Republican viewpoint in a mostly Democratic legislature have come to an end.

The primary election on June 24 is now in the rear-view mirror. But this election, Del. Bill Frank's name wasn't on a single billboard. Twelve years in Annapolis were enough, he said. For Frank, now it's time to go. 

"Every time I drive by [a sign], I'm glad I'm not running," he said with a smile.

Frank, 54, said he decided back when he ran the first time, he wouldn't overstay.

"I never planned to stay more than three terms," the lifelong Republican said.

He said that being diagnosed in 2007 with Parkinson's disease had no part in his decision to leave public office. He said his symptoms are minor; the most obvious being that his voice is softer now.

Too many legislators stay in office too long, he emphasized.

"They lose sight of why they ran in the first place," he said.

"The timing is right," he said.

Two of his and wife Mary Jeanne's three children have finished school. Kathleen, 25, has graduated from law school, Meredith, 23, from college. The youngest, Michael, 19, is now a sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park.

"I'm leaving on a high note," he said. "I've really enjoyed being a delegate. I really enjoyed representing the 42nd District."

Since he was first elected in 2002, Frank said he focused on business issues, along with the needs of constituents.

He continues to worry about the perception of Maryland as unfriendly to business. "I think that problem has worsened since 2002," he said.

Taxes and regulations remain burdensome for businesses, especially small companies, he said. Meanwhile neighboring states have lower corporate income taxes and right-to-work rules — and their economies are better off, he said.

Frank, who spent 14 years in banking, is proud of his 88 percent lifetime score by Maryland Business for Responsive Government. "I've always been endorsed in every campaign by the Maryland Federation of Independent Business," he said.

Frank opposed gas tax increases, but he did support "reasonable fee increases" that saw tolls go up early in his first term. "I'm not reflexively anti-tax."

He worked for changes in legislators' pensions — "I wasn't successful" — and still hopes for protections for doctors against "junk lawsuits."

As steadfast to his beliefs as the delegate was throughout his tenure, Frank remembers one important change of heart. When he was appointed to the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment in 2008, he supported capital punishment and voted against the commission's report which urged a ban on the death penalty. 

Then he changed his mind. 

Five years later, when the legislature voted to outlaw capital punishment, Frank voted with the majority and the ban was passed.