Want to nominate your amazing Jewish friend to be featured on GatherDC? Send his/her name, brief blurb, and contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get to know Mr. Andrew Friedson, AKA: beloved Uncle Drew, diehard Caps fan, DC-area native, and future county council member? Only the votes will tell.
Allie: Is this the first time you’ve run for political office?
Andrew: If you don’t count student government! I was SGA Treasurer, Vice President and then President of Hoover Middle School, and then student body president of Churchill High School and University of Maryland.
Allie: Where does your passion for politics come from?
Andrew: I view public service not as a career choice, but as a calling.
When I was in 5th grade at Wayside Elementary School, I saw an issue with the bus route where there was a blindspot on one of the turns. I tried to tell the school principal, but she wouldn’t meet with me. So, I stopped her in the hallway and explained it to her on a note pad. She said, “Andrew, the Montgomery County Board of Transportation made these bus routes, and I think they are up to par.” A week later there was a major bus crash at that turn.
An article about this crash was published in the Potomac Almanac. I cut it out and pinned it to my cork-board in my bedroom, and had it there my entire childhood. It became my north star. If you see something, you should say something. If there’s a wrong, you should try to right it. This sense of obligation drove me then, and does still.
My brother (and new dad!) Matthew and I at The Jewish Federation’s Good Deeds Day
Allie: What celebrity would you most want to be your campaign manager?
Andrew: Natalie Portman! She’s awesome.
Allie: Did the 2016 presidential election motivate you to run?
Andrew: I have the same frustration, anger, and disgust as many do about some of the things that are happening as a result of the last presidential election, but I didn’t need Trump to get elected for me to get involved in politics. That election has helped galvanize people to get involved in politics who were not engaged before, and who now finally see just how important it is. Unfortunately, there is a saying in politics that there are two motivators – ambition and fear. We hope we have leaders that are playing more to people’s ambitions for a better world than to people’s fears. But, when there is a fear of our values being threatened, it’s encouraging to know that people are willing to stand up for them.
Allie: What would be your ultimate dream job?
Andrew: When I was little I wanted to be a pediatric oncologist. I realize this is not a totally normal thing for a kid to want to do. It turned out I wasn’t that good at science and wasn’t interested in being in school for that long. But, I was able to speak at the groundbreaking for the Shady Grove Adventist Aquilino Cancer Center. I felt like this was the closest I would ever come to realizing my dream.
I was actually at Shady Grove Medical Center Shady Grove just yesterday because my sister-in-law was having a baby (MAZEL!), and passed by the cancer center.
Right now though, my dream job is to be the Montgomery County Council Member.
Also, in a fantasy world, I’d love to be the General Manager of the Caps, and on Facebook, sometimes I pretend that I am!
Allie: Has your Jewish identity shaped your platform at all?
Andrew: From the time I was really young, I’ve felt a strong obligation to help community. This is a value I learned from my parents growing up in a Jewish household. My focus on making sure we don’t leave anybody behind and having a high quality of education are core Jewish values. I’ve also always had this burning desire to improve the world – tikkun olam. I used to think of this in a much more global sense, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to view it in a more Jewish context, that saving just one person is like saving the whole world. That’s why I love state and local politics, where you have the chance to change the world one person, one community, one specific problem at a time.
Allie: Do you have a favorite memory from the campaign trail?
Andrew: I was canvassing, going door-to-door in a neighborhood, and It was really hot. I decided to walk into a nearby market to grab a cold drink. When I was walking in, I saw a piece of campaign literature with my name and face taped to the window, and saw one of my yard signs out front. All of a sudden the store owner looked up at me and he looked at the picture and shouted, “You’re my guy!” His name is Weldon, and I had never met him before that.
On the campaign trail
Allie: What are the biggest issues you want to help out with as County Council Member?
Andrew: I’m most focused on education, transportation, and economic development. If we can get these three things right, they’ll have the biggest impact on improving people’s lives.
Allie: What’s the best and worst thing about campaigning?
Andrew: Running a campaign is basically like running a small business that all coalesces on one day, so there is definitely pressure. But, I love campaigning. I enjoy getting up in the morning often, and not going to bed at night. I get energy from meeting people, learning what they care about, and discussing how how address the challenges we face.
Allie: Do you have a favorite quote you like to live by?
Andrew: I have two:
Allie: It seems like you keep yourself VERY busy. When (and if) you have free moments, how do you like to spend them?
Being Uncle Drew
Andrew: I love spending time with my nieces and nephews as their Uncle Drew. I have 8, which includes one who was just born, and they all live in this area.
Allie: Are there any interesting facts that people may not know about you?
Andrew: I cracked my head open twice as a kid when I was asleep, I just rolled over and hit the nightstand!
Allie: If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?
Andrew: 1) Good health for my family. 2) Every student in Montgomery County is able to show up to kindergarten ready to learn, so they’re not left behind before they even have a chance to start. 3) Every young person who goes to school feels and is safe.
Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…
Andrew: Exciting things happen.