On tables in the back room of Philip M. Andrews’ Rockville campaign headquarters are thousands and thousands of letters, about 30,000 in all. They are each written by campaign volunteers to their friends, family and neighbors asking them to support Andrews in his run for county executive.
The attempt to contact Montgomery County voters is an outgrowth of Andrews’ campaign, which has been partially based on personal contact with residents.
Since January 2013, Andrews said he has knocked on about 20,000 doors around the county, talking with thousands of Montgomery residents about their concerns for the county.
Andrews said he was very aware that he was on the voter’s time when he came to their home, that he might be interrupting dinner or some other part of the daily routine.
But his experience has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Almost everybody’s polite,” he said.
Andrews will try to use the recognition his visits have generated in the June 24 Democratic primary against current County Executive Isiah Leggett and former executive Douglas M. Duncan.
The primary winner will face Republican James Shalleck in the Nov. 4 general election.
Early voting in the primary starts Thursday.
Andrews said the most common concern he heard while talking to voters was that it’s too expensive to live in Montgomery County.
Many retirees told him they’re thinking of leaving the county, other people told him their children can’t afford to come back to Montgomery, and working families are being stretched thin, Andrews said.
If he’s elected, Andrews said he would try to increase the county’s effectiveness in Annapolis and get back a higher percentage of the taxes that Montgomery residents and businesses pay to the state.
“We can’t afford to not be more involved in Annapolis,” Andrews said.
He also strongly supports increasing library hours, infrastructure repair and the number of school resource officers, police officers who are stationed in the county’s schools.
Andrews would also like to increase the staff of the county Inspector General’s office, whose current staff he said isn’t big enough to sufficiently monitor the county’s government.
As a member of the County Council for 16 years, Andrews has been a consistent critic of the labor contracts the county signs with unions representing its workers.
He criticized Leggett and Duncan for labor decisions made when each was executive, and said that as executive, he would work to keep the contracts more reasonable.
Andrews also does not take campaign contributions from unions and other interest groups.
Andrews’ parents grew up during the Great Depression, and taught him the value of being careful with money.
“Fiscal responsibility and progressive values go hand-in-hand,” he said.
Andrews grew up in Kensington, graduating from Einstein High School in 1977.
Recruited to Bucknell University to play tennis, Andrews moved to Philadelphia after graduation to work for the League of Conservation Voters.
He moved back to Maryland in 1988 and spent six years as the executive director of Common Cause Maryland.
After a failed bid for the council in 1994, he worked as the county’s Americorps director until running again in 1998, when he was elected.
Andrews said he’s accomplished much of what he set out to do on the council.
He led the effort on a bill to ban smoking in restaurants in the county, as well as one to require county contractors to pay employees a living wage.
The council is currently considering a bill by Andrews to allow public financing of future county executive and council candidates’ campaigns.
His time on the council has given him good understanding of how the county’s government works, he said.
It’s a trait he acknowledges that he shares with his two primary opponents, and hopes voters will compare their respective times in office.
“We all have experience, we all have records that people can examine,” Andrews said.