Andrew Friedson (D)
Council District: District 1
Attended AIM Candidate Action?: Yes
Housing, Transportation, and the Environment
Will you work with AIM to make Ride-On permanently free to riders and create dedicated bus lanes for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)?
Yes. These two initiatives are environmental and social justice imperatives. I have advocated strongly for transit equity and access throughout this term and have been a long-time supporter of building out the proposed bus rapid transit network and will continue to advocate for getting those routes up and running as soon as possible. When the BRT routes are implemented, they should absolutely include dedicated lanes.
Will you work with AIM to encourage high density housing near transit hubs, including bus rapid transit, Metro and the Purple Line through upzoning to allow increased density within a half mile of these hubs? Will you commit to prioritizing high-density affordable housing development on all public land near transit?
Yes, and I appreciate the partnership with AIM during this term to make historic progress on these issues, including the WMATA PILOT bill I co-authored and we passed with your support. The housing crisis threatens our ability to build the inclusive community we value and to grow the economy needed to sustain our quality of life. We’ve tackled this head-on: co-authoring a revolving $100 million Housing Production Fund to create 6,000 affordable units over 20 years; growing the Housing Initiative Fund to $100 million to fund preservation and production of affordable housing; providing more certainty to nonprofit housing providers; incentivizing housing near transit at Metro and Purple Line stations and through Desired Growth Areas along BRT lines; and leading the effort to eliminate the destructive housing moratorium countywide. We need more housing at all levels.Thus, collocation on public land is a must. We cannot lose opportunities because they only come around every 30-50 years.
Will you work with AIM to stabilize market rate affordable housing in places at risk for significant price increases through strategies such as geographically specific rent stabilization for low-income residents, compensation for tenants whose housing is being redeveloped, and requirements for developers to provide the support necessary for households to resettle in the same community?
Increasing our stock of affordable housing is only one piece of the puzzle. Residents sometimes require targeted support now more than ever. I have supported $109.6 million in appropriations for COVID-19 rent relief and over $850,000 for non-profit organizations to assist tenants this coming fiscal year. In addition, the Council just approved $3 million in new funding for the County’s Rental Assistance Program to increase the maximum subsidy available for families by up to $400 per month for more families.
As a body, we meet regularly with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Sheriff’s office, and community partners to review eviction data and analyze County rent relief efforts and opportunities to support tenants.
Will you work with AIM to provide more protection for tenants including: following current legal requirements for frequency of housing inspection every 1-3 years; hiring inspectors bilingual in Spanish and English; requiring landlords to address identified problems quickly and work with tenants’ associations to establish a tenant hotline via 311 (the county’s information line) in Spanish and English?
Yes. While many of these items are in the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch, like adherence to inspection schedules and hiring practices, I am committed to working together on these issues and providing the Council oversight and budget resources needed to make it happen.
Education and Childcare
Will you commit to work with AIM to increase compensation for teachers and recreation staff within the Excel Beyond the Bell Elementary Program?
Will you commit to expanding the Excel Beyond the Bell Elementary Program to four new schools each year, until it is in every Title I Elementary School in Montgomery County?
Yes. The Council has prioritized expanded Excel Beyond the Bell each year and we should continue that progress.
Will you make pre-K available to more students by: expanding the number of full-day pre-K seats through Head Start, MCPS and Judy Centers; and making the application for subsidies less cumbersome and not contingent on proof of employment?
Quality early care and education is not only a social imperative; it’s an economic necessity. I commit to working with federal, state, county colleagues and families to ensure equitable access to these services. We have made significant strides, especially in the past four years, and have more work to do.
Will you commit to work with AIM to offer Universal Pre-K to all four-year-olds in Montgomery County by 2026?
I am committed to working with our federal and state partners to make Universal Pre-K available to all four-year-olds in Montgomery County.
Will you work with AIM to make the state’s 529 plan accessible and nearly automatic for low-income families to sign up for each year as part of their school registration paperwork, and will you commit to working with AIM so that the county matches the state’s contribution to the program?
Yes. I previously served two stints on the Maryland 529 and as Interim Executive Director to oversee the multi-billion dollar program’s reorganization. In that capacity, I worked on expanding access to the program including the creation of the state matching program, and helped to launch the ABLE disability savings plans as part of the Maryland 529 program offerings. I would look forward to partnering to see what opportunities we have to build on those efforts and expand more opportunities to more Marylanders together.
Healthcare, Dental Care, and Mental Health
Over the next 4 years, will you work to create an effective dental care system for the uninsured such that those who need dental care can be seen twice each year without waiting 3 months for an appointment? Will you commit to increasing funds for dental services such that common specialized services such as root canals can be addressed in the safety net and county dental clinics? Will you establish a patient record system such that patient records can be shared across the safety net and County clinics when a patient is referred to a different clinic?
Dental care is critical to overall wellness and is a must for comprehensive preventative care. That is why I championed and secured additional funding for access to dental specialty care and the development of a dental safety net system in the recently approved FY 23 operating budget.
Will you include funding by 2025 for an emergency medical and dental health crisis fund to county safety net clinics?
We just added funding to the FY 23 Operating Budget to develop a dental safety net system, and I look forward to working with colleagues and the Executive Branch moving forward to build on the Montgomery Cares model and dental care support so every resident in Montgomery County has adequate access to the health and dental care they need, regardless of their insurance coverage, job status, or financial circumstances.
What ideas do you have to increase equitable access to mental health care for young people and how will you work with us to explore these ideas?
As you know, we are in the midst of a serious mental health crisis in our country. I have been a strong supporter of funding additional mental health care access in our public schools, including adding additional mental health professionals in priority schools, increased therapist and case management supports, and funding for Mental Health First Aid trainings and youth stabilization services through Sheppard Pratt’s Care and Connections for Families. I also supported an additional 5.3 million dollars (beyond the County Executive’s recommended funding) for the build-out/implementation of wellness centers in all MCPS high schools which will include therapists, case managers, street outreach, and community providers for youth development services. I have worked closely with EveryMind over the course of this term to increase capacity for staffing of their talk, text, chat hotline. We cannot let any call for help go unanswered because we know that they are a matter of life and death.
Democracy with Accountability
Do you commit to meeting with AIM within a month of taking office, and on a quarterly basis subsequently?
Absolutely. I have and will continue to meet any time. You are important partners and I look forward to continuing our successful collaboration for the betterment of our community.