District 1 Neighbors' Chair Disputes Andrew Friedson's Characterization of District 1 Neighbors

June 24, 2018

 

In my interview last month with Andrew Friedson, I asked him how voters should interpret the data issued in this report by District 1 Neighbors which identifies quantities and percentages of donations from real estate development companies to his (and other) campaigns.

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In his reply which you can hear in the interview below starting at about 38:26, Friedson says:

“Well, I would first of all take the data, the quote unquote data, you have with the biggest grain of salt that you can find because the organization … that is pushing that information, so to speak, is an organization that was created for this election to support a candidate in our race.” ... "It was created specifically with that candidate in mind.”

Damian Whitham, chair of District 1 Neighbors (the group endorsed Meredith Wellington for county council District 1), issued the following response:

"I think Andrew is misstating the facts and providing a convenient false narrative.

 

D1N was not formed to support a specific campaign.  It was formed as an independent organization back in December 2017 to bring communities across District 1 together to address the issues that impact all of us:  sector planning, school overcrowding, traffic, affordable housing, and our quality of life.

 

Four weeks into the process, we realized how the political process impacted our lives and we decided to come up with a methodology to support the candidate that most closely aligned with our members’ interests.  We created a survey, an interview process, a look at the financing as reported by the State of Maryland, and additional publicly available information.

 

Andrew was one of two candidates who refused to commit to answering our survey.   We interviewed him twice to make sure we were not missing something. During the second interview, I noted the disproportionate number of donors that represented developers from the January campaign finance report and asked him if he would disavow any of them.  He said, “No.”

 

I find it disingenuous that he disputes the data in our analysis.  The source is the Maryland Finance report as of May 30th. We clearly listed our methodology as well as allowing candidates to challenge us.  A number of campaigns have, but the Friedson campaign has not. We have a policy that allows us to amend our numbers if we are proven wrong.

 

To the third point, we are not against development.  We strongly believe that the County’s budget woes are due to the fact that the type of development we have engaged with have led us down the path of a huge deficit.  We believe that the costs associated with infrastructure should be borne by all, homeowners and developers alike. However, we believe more of the same is not going to relieve the pressure represented by the issues that led to the creation of District 1 Neighbors.  We believe Andrew represents the status quo.

 

Furthermore, we do not vilify developers or the industry.  We also don't make claims that all people who build things are bad.  It's just that it's not necessarily in their job descriptions to look out for the best interests of the county, holistically, while it IS the responsibility of the county government.  The "status quo" politicians have not proven themselves to be sympathetic with what we want / expect in terms of responsible and sustainable growth.

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