Molly Graham: This is an oral history interview with Adrienne Mandel for the Rutgers Oral History Archives. The interview is taking place on March 30, 2017 in Silver Spring, Maryland. The interviewer is Molly Graham. There are a couple things I wanted to follow up on that you and Shaun talked about last time.
Adrienne Mandel: Sure.
MG: So, maybe we will travel back in time before we move forward.
AM: Move forward when you're ready.
MG: You had talked about your child welfare casework in Camden and said that you had gotten pregnant and then was asked to leave the job.
AM: I was asked by the State Department of Institutions and Agencies. They had a policy that when a female employee of the State Department of Institutions and Agencies became obviously pregnant that was not the time to continue employment. I didn't research the law. I wasn't in that mode of operation back then. If it happened today, you can be sure I would, because laws are open to interpretation. I didn't challenge it. I just said, "Got to leave." I felt fine. I wanted to continue working, but I had no choice. The State of New Jersey was terminating me, was terminating my employment at six months.
MG: I thought it was unique that you were hired at a hospital during the same pregnancy. So, I was curious about that.
AM: That's right. Friends of ours, one of the husbands of a friend of ours, in the Philadelphia area, worked at Hahnemann Hospital as a researcher and told me about this new research project which was starting about the impact of IV light in the operating rooms and how that is supposed to diminish the proliferation of bacteria and viruses in the room. They needed somebody, literally, to collect the data from the operating rooms and bring them to a central location. So, at six and a half months pregnant, that's what I started to do and the only thing that was a bit off-putting to me was, as I became larger and larger in my pregnancy, walking up and down those subway steps in Philadelphia. We had no subways in New Jersey. I had been in New York with family members. My aunt and uncle used to take me to New York often, but this was a new experience and I did it because I wanted to work, Manny was in graduate school and, as I mentioned I think in the prior interview, the way things worked back then was that the wife would put the husband through school if necessary and that's what I was doing. I was fine until about three, four weeks before the baby was born and then the doctor suggested that I be available at home because we never know with the first pregnancy. I was glad to have a job for a couple of months.
MG: What was it like to become a mother for the first time?
AM: Oh, it was so exciting. It was fascinating. The only guide we had was our parents and Dr. Spock. So, the Dr. Spock book, I must have lost it or given it away to somebody, but it was so well used by me it was falling apart. There was really very little literature and guidance as to how to do what. We learned that on the job, we really did. It was so exciting for me the first time our daughter laughed. My husband was at school and I couldn't call him; there weren't cell phones, but I wanted somebody to share that with me. It was the most exciting moment. I'll never forget it, everything she did. We had a playpen which I'm very happy I don't see anymore. It looked like caging an animal, but it was a beautiful wooden colonial style turned wood, like the chair over there. I would be in the kitchen and we had a little apartment in a beautiful single home in the northwest part of Philadelphia right near Cheltenham. It was a wooded area and had a lot of azaleas on the lawn. I would sit outside with her. We would move the playpen outside during the summer. Her first words, we'll never forget either, "pretty, pretty flower," because I would probably say to her every day, "Isn't that a pretty flower?" I loved flowers all my life. Having a new baby was a marvelous experience. My mother-in-law and father-in-law lived in the community, so they bonded with Lisa. It was just for a year because we moved to Cleveland when she was a little bit over a year, but it was nice that my in-laws, who had been through a massive tragedy of the Holocaust in Europe, had an opportunity to see that their son was continuing the family line.
MG: Did they ever tell you about their experience?
AM: Very little. I think on record, I might have told the archive that when I first met my husband, we were teenagers. We were sixteen, seventeen and we got to know each other through the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. It was a leadership training organization and also focused on Judaic practices, it wasn't rituals of the religion and learning of the religion but it was the practices and the holidays. So, Manny was well tuned into that and I was not. I came from a highly non-observant home, although my mother worked as a volunteer in the local synagogue's sisterhood. But what was really significant was that my husband made light of his prior life before he came to Philadelphia. First New York, and then Philadelphia. I asked him once--he had this green card in his wallet and he was showing me some pictures and that was sort of prominently in the wallet. I said, "What's that?" He said, "Oh, it just says I'm a permanent resident." I said, "What do you mean, permanent resident?" Now, his accent was audible at that time when he was sixteen, seventeen. It's not quite audible anymore; maybe I don't hear it. I don't know which. He said, "Permanent resident." I said, "Permanent Resident?" Well, why do you need that?" He says, "See here, it says Perma Res." I said, "Oh, is that where you're from? Perma Res? Where is that?" He said, "Oh, some country in Europe. You don't even hear about it." That was the discussion. My in-laws did not talk much about it, a mention here and mention there. It really was the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum here, I think it's twenty-four years ago now, that enabled the whole universe of survivors to feel comfortable to share their life experiences. Very interesting, an aside, a couple of years ago, Susan Eisenhower, General Dwight D. Eisenhower's granddaughter, came to speak to a group of survivors and I attended. She tells the story of how important her grandfather, who later became our President, felt about liberation and his seeing the camps. He insisted that every one of his children and grandchildren be required by him to see that album of horrific photographs that he and his generals had assembled. My daughter is now fifty-seven years old. So, it was twenty-five, thirty years ago that her father began to open up. Now Manny goes all over, not only in the United States, talking about--he's on the Speaker's Bureau for the Holocaust Museum--not only speaking here, but we've been to Switzerland. There's a documentary made by a film producer in New York of the man who negotiated with Adolf Eichmann to release a certain number of Jews from Hungary in 1944 toward the end of the war. It's the story of Rudolf Kastner. Manny speaks about that. The documentary has been shown all over the world, and he's gone to a few of the local US showings to accompany the film. So, no, my in-laws didn't talk to me about their Holocaust experiences. Manny and his mother were in concentration camps. My father-in-law was in the work brigades, labor camps mostly in the Ukraine, and at the end of the war he literally marched back to Budapest where they were a highly respected family. He was a clergyman, a Hazzan, one who sings the services. His wife wouldn't return to Hungary. She said, "No." So, that's backtracking a bit, but that gives you some idea. Every child born to a Holocaust survivor is the retribution for what the Nazis did to an entire population of six million, Manny and many other. But they are, what he terms, a diminishing resource. We're eighty years old. We are not going to live forever. If we're blessed with good health I hope we live for another ten, twenty years, whatever, but our lifespan is limited. He often quotes George Santayana, the philosopher historian, who said, "If you don't know your history, you're bound to repeat it." That's a paraphrase of course. It's interesting you're here today and he's at Hamilton College and Colgate University talking about his life experiences. Mine is much different.
MG: It is great that he has his story on the record.
AM: Yes, yes. Steven Spielberg, the Shoah Foundation in California, had interviewed him, and the Holocaust Museum here has interviewed him. The process is that all survivors' stories are being recorded because Manny says he would love to hear the words of a Civil War veteran and how did he feel when he was reunited with his brother who lived in the South, things like that, to hear the feelings and the emotions, not just what we read that good historians have captured, but it's very different. So, you're doing the same kind of work.
MG: I agree.
AM: Okay, good.
MG: What can you tell me about his experience?
AM: He endured the experience for probably three years of his life, from five through eight. I would be glad to lend you copies of his tapes or anything, if you're interested in hearing it. I don't like to speak for him because he does a very good job himself, but I guess it influenced his future career. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work and decided to work with adolescents, and did that for many years, and then went into psychotherapy practice himself. I'm sure human services was a calling in many respects because first he thought he'd be on track to be an engineer, but he decided engineers just sit and fiddle with things and numbers and he didn't like that; he liked personal interaction. He didn't have a dad for about five, six, seven years. His father was in and out of his life because he was sent to labor camp when the war started in '41. Manny was just five years old. They weren't reunited until after the war in Israel. Did he feel deprived when his dad told him he couldn't have a bicycle because they lived on a top floor of--we've been back a couple of times in fact, in Budapest--of a lovely building and they'd have to drag the bike up and down and the elevator parts were unavailable? If he were riding himself in the park, somebody could see his yellow star and decide to knock him off the bike just because they could. So, did he feel deprived? At the time, he didn't really understand, but his memory is so sharp and acute when he was seven, eight. He can describe his life in the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, not from reading but from experiencing. We went to Bergen-Belsen a couple of years ago. We're invited back every five years for the commemoration of the Holocaust at the site of the Camp and they have a marvelous museum there, a lot of artifacts from 1940 actually through '48, because it was a displaced persons camp after the war. After Many was released, after six months during a horrible winter, to a children's home in neutral Switzerland; he was fortunate or unfortunate because his mother was a teacher and came with him. She could speak French and a little bit of English, and German, and Hungarian. There were a lot of Hungarian kids who were in that Hungarian complex of the camp. So, his mother was there with him, but anything that anybody got in trouble about was always blamed on him because he was the son of the teacher. He tells those kinds of stories too. But when we were in Bergen-Belsen, one of the women who we got to know, Rivka, asked me to walk with her. There's a footprint of the barracks where they stayed, just a footprint, of wood and brick, no building. She said, "Walk with me over this way." I walked with her and she said, "That was the latrine." She described it in all its ugly horror. Manny never got into that. I guess, maybe for a boy, it was different, but for her, a little girl; he remembers the soup, which was the main meal of the day, and he describes it as sort of very weak coffee with some bones and he remembers the Nazi who would bring it, yelling in the morning to be out at four 'o clock in the mud and things like that. He remembers the fact that the people started businesses. They would take tin cans and make jewelry. They would swap cigarettes for jewelry to try to achieve a sense of normalcy of life, not knowing what the next stage would bring. So, he has some vivid memories and he has joyful memories too. He had what they later diagnosed as pneumonia and they put hot mustard packs on his chest because there was no sulfa. He said he spent a lot of time either trying to recover or feeling bored because he couldn't run around. He tells a story--his uncle was in the men's section of the Camp. This group, which was rescued by the man by the name of Kastner, was supposed to go to a neutral port and be transported to Israel--Palestine, at that time. But the negotiations were going on and weren't finished and they were diverted to the Concentration Camp and one group of these sixteen-hundred people got out in three months and Manny's group didn't get out until six months, but he recalls that there was some semblance of a school that was developed and holiday celebration. Hanukkah is in December and they were still there. He can paint a pretty vivid picture of what it was like. Oh, and his uncle was telling him he couldn't run, because in the mud his shoes would fall apart. He remembers that vividly and he was angry. He was a seven-year-old; he wanted to run around. His uncle was able to barter some wooden dowels to stick into the leather and the sole of the shoe to keep it together. He was so proud of his new shoes. His mother tells about putting a diamond ring in a bar of soap when they were transported. They were transported in cattle cars. I don't know if you've been to the Museum here. She had put the soap down for a minute at some wash station and it was gone. His mother took some provisions with her for the trip, which they thought was to a neutral port. They were a religious family. In the U.S. they would've been called, probably, an Orthodox family. She had the foresight to take with her foods that didn't need refrigeration. She took a slab of bacon. Well, Jewish Orthodox families don't eat bacon. They don't eat any pig products, but she did that because she knew in her mind God would forgive her for breaking the rules, because you needed some kind of sustenance. These are the little tidbits that I can fill in, but not as effectively as my husband has been doing it now for the past, eight, nine years he's been with the Museum's Speaker's Bureau. He started just as a docent at the Museum. You know there's no real tours at the museum, only for school groups and for law enforcement. Police, FBI, CIA, they all come there. That was started some years ago by the police chief of Washington DC, who felt after he toured the Museum that it would be very important for all his rookies to see that even though the government and the police are those who are supposed to be helping people and protecting people; if the government says something to you that you don't believe should be done, you have to have the stamina to confront that, because the police didn't, the police in Hungary. The war came to Hungary very late in '44, but the Hungarian Nazi Party themselves, the Arrow Cross, were there before, and many of them were neighborhood police who would have knocked a kid off the bike if they wanted the bike if they saw the yellow star because some supervisor told them to do it. Manny often speaks to FBI and police and law enforcement groups at the Museum.
MG: That seems especially useful now as there are these deportations and sanctuary cities are being targeted.
AM: Yes, yes. Well, you're sitting in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is a "city" of a million people now. The county government here delivers all services; schools, law enforcement, libraries, recreation, planning by the county governments, just like a city. It's an anachronistic carry-over from the south that we're called a county. We're a million people. So, it's interesting. Really, if you're interested in Manny's story, his history, we'll be glad to see that you get something to read. I'll give you the names of three books that have been written about his saga.
MG: I would really appreciate that. It is something I teach when I teach oral history. We've interviewed Holocaust survivors and their stories are just so important.
AM: Right. There's a man whom we know in the New Brunswick-Rutgers area, Paul Winkler, Ph.d, an educator who has brought Holocaust education into the schools. You may have even worked with him. He has organized the survivor community into some folks who agree to speak about their experiences and he speaks. He's not a survivor himself. I think maybe his parents were.
MG: Well, thank you for sharing that with me.
MG: You moved to Cleveland and then to Detroit.
MG: You talked about that in the interview with Shaun.
MG: I was curious how you were thinking about your career unfolding because one of the things you said was you always had your eyes on Washington, DC.
AM: Yes, not necessarily DC. I certainly wanted to return "back east," because we were blessed enough to have four parents who were removed from our daughter and later in Cleveland, our son, our two children. I really wanted to come back east. Having been a Rutgers graduate in government and history, those were my interests and I became peripherally involved through League of Women Voters, basically, keeping my eyes, all the time, on current events. I found it very interesting, but I really felt that my major focus had to be my kids. That was no different for many other women in that milieu in the early '60s. The transition to women's movement was just very nascent then, it was just beginning, but I had the feeling that as my kids needed me less and less on a daily basis while they were at school, then I would like to be able to work in some form of government and why not Washington, the hub of our government. So, it wasn't that it was gnawing at me or bothering me. I was a happy mom and I found interesting things to do, but I was glad that Manny was given the opportunity. The focus was always on the male in the partnership. The female was always supposed to be the supporter, when necessary. I really didn't look at work as the need to contribute to the family's economic situation, but rather as something satisfying and also some way I could be helpful. That's why I was looking toward Washington as a great place to be.
MG: I read in your materials that you had given some advice to your grandson who was applying for colleges or jobs. You went through something similar.
AM: Oh, yes. I would read the Washington Post every day. They had many more pages of job announcements than they do today because now everything is done digitally online. Zachary graduated from the University of Maryland with what Manny refers to as a degree in "Washington Engineering." When people say to us, "What do your grandkids do?" He responds, "My grandson is involved in Washington Engineering." "What's that?" "Government and politics of course; that's the industry." Zachary graduated with that degree and he really didn't know quite what he wanted to do. His mother is an attorney. He knew he didn't want to go to law school. He didn't want any more school. So, he used to sit home, as Lisa said, on their sofa in the family room with a meal plan. She'd come home from work and he expected the meal to be prepared by his mom. That didn't last too long. But he became involved in doing some podcasts in Northern Virginia. I don't listen to them because he said that it would burn my ears. He wants me to be the lady I am, but my son listens. His uncle listens. He says, "Zachary is very well informed," but he didn't look at that as a career, radio broadcasting. One day, Lisa said to him, "Zachary, you've got to get off that sofa and figure out what your next step is, what you want to do because the meal plan is over." [laughter] She mentioned to him that there was a temporary opening in the building in which she was working. So, he followed through. He's been there now for the past three and a half years, four years, and he seems to be pretty happy, although he, too, would like to be on the Hill, Capitol Hill. I, too, thought I would like to be on the Hill. I answered all kinds of ads and I showed him, when he really got off the sofa and started looking. I had about a four-inch file. Do you know what carbon paper is? Okay. We used to type and make a copy for ourselves. I would submit in the mail, US Post Office responses to ads. Now, granted, my file--because Manny and I sort of keep archives here too. You'll see. I'll show you some stuff. Literally, it was four inches thick. Now, granted those were the rejection letters and my carbon paper application, but I showed it to Zachary, and I don't know whether or not that assuaged his feelings of, well, I just got to get out there and make applications and yes I'll have rejections, but something will come through that'll be good. But he saw that and he thought it was a little funny. [laughter]
MG: When you came to the DC area, where did you settle?
AM: We settled immediately in Silver Spring, in the northern area of Silver Spring at a location called Layhill, Bel Pre area. It was a nice neighborhood where the kids could walk to elementary school and junior high school, both--they were already calling that middle school--and had lovely neighbors. We still keep in touch with at least two of them who remain in that neighborhood. It was a good place. It took Manny thirty-five, forty minutes to get downtown. He had carpool, most of the time. I started working after a couple of years, downtown at a non-profit that tried to teach disability organizations how to access federal programs called FPIAP, Federal Program Information and Referral Program. That worked pretty much okay for a while, but it was a soft money job and soon it was disappearing. I had a friend who worked here in Montgomery County at the Parklawn Building, which was known as part of HHS, Health and Human Services. She worked for the National Institute of Mental Health and she would say to me, "You're really silly to be spending two hours a day commuting and then coming home and making dinner. Why don't you look for a job in Montgomery County?" I started to do that and I landed an internship here in the Department of Health and Human Services as a bureaucrat. That lasted a short while, like a year or two. The kids were in school. Then I went into another department, that operated the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act program, CETA. That was a federal program and they provided employment and job training opportunities for people who were underemployed, economically disadvantaged, mostly and that lasted a couple of years. I was part of the monitoring unit because there was a lot of fraud and abuse in the program and the federal government said each of the localities should start a monitoring unit to evaluate whether or not the programs were really delivering what they should and also looking to ensure that there wasn't abuse. So, there were just five or six of us. I enjoyed that work very much. We would do a lot of interviewing of the recipients of these training programs, as well as those who delivered the programs themselves. We'd develop our own questionnaires to do these surveys. In fact, a colleague of mine, two of us, were sent to many different locations in this area. We also went to Ohio, as I recall, maybe even to New Jersey, to deliver training to other CETA employees about how we developed our own training questionnaires and just to give some general information. There was no real format. We had to sort of create these things ourselves. It was a new program of monitoring the CETA program. We became, I guess, training officers or models for the other localities in this and other areas. That was good until the government no longer funded the CETA program and Montgomery County didn't know what to do with us. This was the first time reduction in force, RIF, was occurring, so they gave the six of us, an opportunity to interview for jobs before they were posted, jobs in Montgomery County government. The first job they sent me to interview at was with the Health Department. I wasn't quite sure because the position listed was Health Department Inspector. Now, I had no medical or physical health background and I tried to get a little information on it, but nobody was very forthcoming. I found that the job was to go into restaurants and look for rats and roaches or whatever. I came home at night and I told Manny, I said, "I would rather be unemployed." I said, "I cannot do this. This is not the kind of work I want to do." He said, "It's okay. You'll find something. Don't get upset." Then they gave me an opportunity to interview for the opening of a new senior citizens' center in Montgomery County and it was one of the largest and most exciting multi-service senior centers. The Recreation Department had a senior center operating, but it was mostly for exercise groups and entertainment, but this new center was to house a nurse and once a week dentists and cultural activities and art classes and current event classes, and do it all without a program budget. So, I beefed up my resume. Because my mother had just moved here from New Jersey, it helped. My Dad died in '69 and she lived ten years near my sister in East Brunswick and then she decided she would come and live some years--as it happened, it was about ten years with me. Not with me but in the community. So, she moved into a senior housing development just about a mile from our home. The building was new, the whole complex was new, but they wanted to have activities for seniors there. So, she was still driving, a vibrant lady, quite dynamic and she organized card groups and things like that. She said, "A lot of the ladies would love to go out to movies, but there are not enough drivers. So, I offered to drive and Manny offered to learn how to drive their bus and he had to get a C license, a commercial license, and he did that. We volunteered. In the application for the senior center job, I was the activity leader at Homecrest House. And I was. Nobody else was volunteering there and Mom and her group of friends would get together and we would do different things and go different places together. So, that got me into the Holiday Park Senior Center, and I was there for close to two years. I had an open-door policy. I decided that although I was enjoying one aspect of the work very much, which was reaching out to all the resources in this wonderful county--the library, the tax office, the Health and Human Services Office--and bringing people in to give programs at the senior center. Right after lunch, one o'clock every day, there'd be a program. Then I started a volunteer corps among the seniors themselves and we found one woman who taught Tai Chi, somebody else who taught bridge, another five or eight people who did stories about their travels and they'd come with their slide shows and their pictures, and art lessons--all volunteer. So, I started a volunteer corps at Holiday Park Senior Center. I started a monthly newsletter with the volunteers and I think the column that I initiated, which was called Wellness--we'd have the nurse and the dentist and people from the health department write stories and paragraphs about maintaining good health in that column. I enjoyed the work but the thing that I didn't enjoy and I felt I wasn't really professionally equipped to handle, was people coming in and sitting in my office and telling me their troubles. So, I wasn't a counselor and I wasn't a social worker. I was empathetic, but I was there to do a job and not to do individual counseling, and yet, I was not able to close my door and hide behind the door. I soon had my eye on a possibility because I heard of this office called the Office of State Affairs in Montgomery County and I had my eye there. How did I get there? My daughter was my conduit. She was graduated from the University of Michigan and in what they now call a gap yea; she took a year off to work. She really wanted to go to the University of Michigan Law School and although she was the President of the student government of the whole university, not just her college, her little arts and sciences college, she didn't get accepted. She had a letter from the President of the University, and she did not get into the University of Michigan Law School. She was an out-of-state student and the competition was enormous; they took their in-state students first, and I understand that as a Rutgers graduate. So, she came home and she started working as an intern in the county government as I had started some years before. She worked for the County Executive, the mayor. The mayor had a CAO, Chief Administrative Officer, and an Assistant CAO. The Assistant CAO was a woman. My daughter said to me one day, "Mom, why don't you go and see Freda Mauldin. She's very interested in women being able to get into career tracks they really enjoy and move up and she's a great person to talk to." She said, "Take her for a drink." In my naivete, I said, "A drink of what?" Lisa said, "Take her out after work someday for a beverage of her choice." There are no bars around here. I know New Jersey has bars, Baltimore City has bars. Montgomery County doesn't have bars but I said, "Where would I take her for a drink?" I said, "Okay." I was not very comfortable with that whole concept but Lisa, my daughter, was teaching me. I called Freda and introduced myself and told her who I was, the mother of the intern who works in her office, and we went for a drink. After a long discussion she said, "I'm going to see what I can do for you." So, it takes another woman to help another woman for sure, and within three or four months she said, "I'm going to help you get out of Holiday Park Senior Center and you're going to be the Assistant to the Assistant CAO." Not knowing what I would do or how I would do it, there I was. Basically, I did a lot of writing and administrative tasks. Again, my eyes were on the Office of State Affairs and of course the connotation of "state affairs" was not bothering anybody back then in '83, '84, '85. Soon, after I left, the name was changed to Inter-Governmental Relations, which people sort of chuckle about, State Affairs to Inter-Governmental Relations. Anyway, that office was on the same floor as the CAO. I saw what was going on there and I got to know the director of that office. There were three people, two men and a woman, and she was pregnant. She would be leaving for her maternity leave in January when the state legislature begins its session. I got to know Tom Stone in the office, who was a man who worked very hard in the campaign of the current mayor, County Executive Charles Gilchrist. Lisa, our daughter, had been a page in Annapolis for two weeks of the legislative session. So, she got to know the man who became the mayor here. He was a State Senator first. She got to know Tom Stone, who worked for Charlie Gilchrist. She said, "Well, just let people know that you're available." I said, "What do you mean I'm available? I just started working for Freda." She said, "Talk to Freda so that she understands." I had been there maybe six, eight months. I told Freda that I understood that the woman who was working for Tom Stone in State Affairs was going to be leaving for a while and Tom is a little frantic. What would they do for three weeks or a month? So, Freda said, "Well, go tell him you're available." And I said, "But you're expecting me to be here." She said, "That's the opportunity that you're looking for, isn't it?" Long and short of the story is, the woman never returned to work after her child was born. So, I competed for the job. I had to take exams and file applications just as all merit system jobs are done in government. Having spent a month and a half in Annapolis already, I went down during the summer before the January session with Tom who was this great big six foot three guy, Director of the office. He would take three or four steps and I would have to take seven to catch up with him. I'd been to Annapolis doing some advocacy, but maybe just once or twice in the years since '73, when we moved here. So, I really didn't really know Annapolis. Tom Stone and Tom Lingan lived together in one room in a hotel in Annapolis during the legislative session. Cathy, the woman who worked with them, pretty much commuted. She lived closer to Annapolis. Annapolis is about an hour from here. So, I didn't even think of how I would work this out, but I followed Tom around for a few days when the committees were meeting during the off months of the official legislative session. There I saw, in the Judiciary Committee--this is 1984, '85--strictly men, no women, in their summer clothes, open shirts, a couple of them quite stocky looking men with the blubber hanging over the belt line, eating apples and throwing the core on the desk, smoking. This is an official government Committee session and I was a bit startled. At the end of the day, Tom said, "So, what do you think, kid?" Then later, he started calling me Mom because he knew my daughter. "So Mom, what do you think? Do you think you can do the job?" I said, "I certainly want to do the job." He said, "Well, you just get out there and round up those ponies and you do it." That's the kind of orientation I didn't get, but the Tom Lingan who was finishing his law degree and who worked in the office understood that I was a little bit bewildered. He took me under his wing and I started in October or November. Fortunately, Freda was very supportive because she understood. We started by my receiving a portfolio of work that I would be doing in environment, the soft stuff--environment, and health and human services and a couple of the other departments. Tom Lingan took me around the building and introduced me to the different department people and told me with whom I'd have to interact. I remember we visited one Senator who lived near my home and she was working on a bill. We were helpful doing some research for her because the main focus of Office of State Affairs was to support our delegation in Annapolis, our eight Senators and twenty-four Delegates and bring the county government's perspective on how bills would impact the residents here in Montgomery County. I did that for ten years and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was happy, satisfied, felt productive and learned a lot. It was a wonderful learning experience.
MG: It sounds like some of the things you did before this position helped you survey and understand what were the community issues and needs.
AM: Yes, yes. David, our son, was in fourth grade and he would walk to school, which was wonderful. In fact, our house was right next to the school path. He was a bit uncomfortable when we first moved. He had more difficulty integrating than his sister did. There was a girl across the street that Lisa had immediately become friendly with and they went off to middle school together and enjoyed each other through much of at least the early years in high school. But David found it a little difficult. In fact, one day, I stood on the chair in the kitchen watching him because the kids came home from school for lunch. It was a neighborhood school and I wasn't quite sure he wasn't going to run into the woods rather than return to school after lunch. We backed into a green space and there was a little hill and woods; the school was at the top of the hill. David adjusted. It took a while but he adjusted. There was a dirt path through the woods, right to the school. One day, there appeared a lot of pebbles and the kids would walk and kick up dust, and this was the time when there was information in the press and radio, television, about mesothelioma being asbestos laden earth and stone. I was reading about that and I thought, "I wonder what's in those stones, because the kids are kicking up this dust as they walk to school." So, I wasn't smart enough at that time. This was, I guess, '74, '75. Now I'm telling you how I got into working on the Hill before I went to Montgomery County government. I phoned the local Delegates and Senator in my district and asked them to come and see this path and tell me whether or not the dust and everything that was coming out of those pebbles that the kids enjoyed kicking and throwing at each other, could have asbestos in it. Where did these stones come from? They did the little bit of research for us and found out that they came from a quarry that was an asbestos-laden quarry. Within two weeks, those stones were gone and it was because of the intervention of State Senator, Larry Weiser. I'll never forget; he was sitting in my living room with, I think, two of the Delegates. In fact, the woman, who I later went to her home because she became a Senator when Larry stepped down, was there that day, Idamae Garrott. Remember, this is 1985, '86. Larry, after this whole episode was over, said to me, "Why don't you consider becoming a precinct official?" I remembered from New Jersey that the precinct official in Hillside used to visit our house porch before every election; my Mom was an election judge and he used to brief her. There was no training for election judges the way there is today. I remember the simple click, click machines. When you'd go like this [flip a lever with your finger] and choose by pushing down the little levers. I often would sit and listen to the stories that the precinct official would tell Mom. That's the only paid employment my Mother ever had since we kids were born. So, I thought, "Well this will be really interesting, and get me back into the swing of government and politics," and I did that. In fact, I did it for fifteen years, precinct official, raising dollars for Democrats once a year, door-knocking and recruiting people to volunteer to help those who were running for office, having backyard barbeques to have speakers from the elected officials talk to residents. I did that, found it very interesting and gratifying. A friend of ours worked on the Hill, a guy in the neighborhood, and he said, "Why don't you come down with me one day and go into the Michigan Congressman's office because some of these Congress people don't get their hometown people to move to Washington and maybe there's a slot for you." So, I worked on the Hill for about three or four months in the office of Congressman Jim Blanchard who later became our US Ambassador to Canada. That also was very gratifying. We sat in a cage. I mean, that's what we called it, because it was across the hall from the main office and was surrounded by fence wire that enclosed the space. There were two of us. We were legislative correspondents and answered constituent concerns with boiler plate paragraphs that we created; we would just plug them in. Once in a while, but not too often, we would sit in the office with the Congressman and he'd tell us about his positions on certain issues and we'd write them up, and of course his Chief of Staff would then look at the little paragraphs that a couple of us wrote. Mostly, it was volunteer. I think every once in a while they'd give me a stipend from the office, what they call transportation stipend. Then a position as a paid legislative correspondent opened up in the office of Senator Dick Clark. I got that job and I did that for about another six to eight months, maybe another year, but it became very difficult because the expectation on the Hill was that you were there until nine or ten at night if you needed to be to get your work done. It wasn't fair to me. It wasn't fair to my husband and my kids because I still had that priority in my life. Even though my kids were older and they could basically take care of themselves, I felt I should be home. So, I left the Hill when a friend of mine suggested I start looking in Montgomery County and there I was at the Office of State Affairs where I worked for ten years before being elected.
MG: Were you selected to work with Jim Blanchard or did you want to work for him?
AM: I was following up on a suggestion of a neighbor who was on the Hill, that Blanchard's Office would be a likely office that could use me because I had lived in Michigan for ten years and I at least knew some of the communities there.
MG: He is the former Governor.
AM: Yes, yes, Governor and Ambassador.
MG: I read he was fairly successful in turning around the Michigan economy and had some good programs.
AM: That's right, yes. But I didn't really get into much of the whole milieu in that office, although I kept in touch with one of his staff members for many years. I should give her a call now and then, Nina Gray. I remember her name. I was torn when I was on the Hill. I liked what I was doing. I had taken a course that I had to pay for, training prospective employees for Capitol Hill work. It almost reminded me, now in retrospect, of how the fine young ladies were trained here where we now live, in National Park Seminary School for young ladies; it was done by an older woman. I don't know how many people actually got jobs as a result of paying for the course. I guess it was like a five or six-hundred-dollar course for a couple of months, two or three days a week on Capitol Hill. There was a little brick building near some of the congressional buildings and we would gather there. I tried it. I didn't mind using the new subway then. It was just becoming available and I'd get off at Union Station and walk a few blocks to the course. I don't know whether or not it helped me get the job. Maybe it did. At least it showed my interest in learning.
MG: What did the course entail?
AM: The different kinds of job opportunities that are available on the Hill; what kind of educational experience the congressman and staff would be looking for; not to just respond to Washington Post ads but to pound the pavement; to walk around to offices where you felt you might have some connection and drop off your resumes and follow up with telephone calls and basically hound the office where you feel you wanted to work. To volunteer, to become a volunteer and work there as a volunteer first before you would then become an official applicant to show them "what you got." So, it was that kind of a course. Writing samples, how to develop your better writing skills, to zero in on what kind of a position you would want in the office, not to be immediately placed in a position called secretary or receptionist. No, that's not what you want. Those kinds of instructions were provided as well as highlights of current issue areas.
MG: When you were fielding these phone calls in the phone banks you were talking about, what were the major concerns that people were calling in about?
AM: I'm trying to think back to that era. Most of these kinds of concerns were not specifically related to the Michigan area. They were more focused on national concerns and I can't tell you specifically now. But I was working for a Democrat, the Democrats were in control, and from what I recall, I really can't tell you exactly what we answered; mostly it was correspondence rather than telephone calls that we answered. I didn't answer many of the telephone calls but we got copies of the correspondence that came in. We opened mail and categorized it into different topical areas and some of them were controversial topical areas. I, as a volunteer, and the other person who sat in the cage with me didn't answer the controversial kind of responses that were needed.
MG: What would be an example of a controversial topic?
AM: I'm trying to think about that and I can't even tell you now. I'd have to go into my own archives because I probably had some of those letters that I did. I really can't tell you what the high controversial issues were. Some of the social issues were emerging, more so in the '80s. This is late '70s, early '80s, because I had worked as a volunteer in the campaign here of Lanny Davis who ran for Congress in 1976.
MG: He's a New Jersey guy.
AM: Originally in Jersey, yes. You do know that name. Brilliant young man, absolutely brilliant. I went to some of his coffees and teas, and I remember somebody threw him a real hardball question about some island in the Pacific that was priority of our government at that time for some reason. I don't even remember why and people were astonished that he was able to discuss it intelligently. At least we thought it was intelligent, but Lanny didn't make it as a congressman. I thought that would be my ticket to the Hill, but it wasn't. But those kinds of social issues were just beginning to emerge. Women's rights. It was after the whole civil rights era, but the women's rights were modeling themselves on the civil rights approach. So, that's something I do recall, but I can't tell you specifically what the high controversial issues were at that time.
MG: Well, tell me more about your work as a lobbyist. I thought there are some interesting parallels in what you did as a lobbyist and your time on the debate team in high school.
AM: Right, exactly. You have to know both sides of the issue, no question about that. Being able to represent a county government, whether or not you truly, as a resident, believe in what the county government wants you to do, you have to be their advocate in Annapolis. There was a lot of concern about Senator Idamae Garrott's interests in animal protection. She introduced a bill that got tagged as the "Bunny Bill" because research was being done on the eyes of rabbits, and the researchers were not very much interested in protecting the animal itself; they were interested in getting results and she wanted to prohibit that kind of research. People would say, "Oh, here comes Garrott again with one of her Bunny Bills." So anything she did, even if it was not related to animal welfare, they would call them her Bunny Bills. But we were here to support the people who represented the residents of Montgomery County. So, we helped with research and we didn't oppose a bill like that because it didn't hurt the residents of Montgomery County. Rather, on the other side, it helped them. I found that advocacy and lobbying, was not a dirty word. People would say, "A lobbyist?" It was sort of a perception that all lobbyists were black-hatted villains. But I found when I worked for the Office of State Affairs that we were lobbyists on behalf of county government and sometimes the people who represented us in Annapolis, the Delegates and the Senators, got swept up in their own agendas. They wanted to be a part of the leadership in Annapolis and therefore, they would follow the guidance--I don't want to say dictates, but guidance is a better word--of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate so that they would engender his interest in them as individuals who could rise into leadership, or they were influenced by friends they made in other jurisdictions who always looked at Montgomery County as though our sidewalks were paved with gold, and that was definitely changing. Our immigrant population started to come into Montgomery County in the '80s and '90s. That population has a lot of needs--housing, healthcare, language--and Montgomery County was no longer what they called the goose that laid golden eggs for the State. We've never been a smokestack economy, never, and it was just the beginning of the whole biotech surge here in the county, which now exists and is very strong. We were always a bedroom community for Washington DC, and the transportation needs were constantly growing. The education needs in the schools were constant. The housing--there was homelessness here. We became very urban, no longer just suburban. So, it was the lobbying office's job to inform the rest of the State that we're just like you, we're no different. We're not very rural like Western Maryland or Southern Maryland near the beaches, but we have urban needs now and it was a transition time to be a Montgomery County lobbyist in Annapolis. People didn't believe it. We were very fortunate in that most of our elected officials were beginning to bring that message forward as well, but we were there. We did tours for other legislators from outside our jurisdiction to come to Montgomery County and get to see the county.
AM: Okay. Today, everything is done via computer, via Internet. It's an electronic world. Of course, it has its pluses and minuses, but during my days in the Office of State Affairs in Annapolis, in December we would pack up. We would do our own packing, our bill files. Our secretary, everybody, would move to Annapolis. We literally lived there Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night. We'd come home on Friday night for the weekend. Sometimes we didn't because sometimes sessions would spill over into Saturday, but we hired a courier and all the major jurisdictional offices would communicate with their county government via telephone and courier. The courier would carry bills that we needed expert advice on from our departments as to how this would affect the county and the county government and the certain department. So, they'd see the bills and they'd have two or three people in each of the departments be the point persons to respond, and we would then write position statements that we would deliver to our Delegates and Senators in each of the relevant committees before each bill hearing. The courier, back and forth, would bring us the expert opinion and we'd have to prepare at least three or four days in advance of the scheduled hearings on each of the bills before the different legislative committees. We were generalist for the most part, the two Tom's and I in the beginning. Then, the office expanded and another woman came aboard. As issues became more complex and as issue areas even expanded over the years, we were two women, Tom and Tom, four--but we also had another woman working for us who actually was assigned by the Office of Health and Human Services in the county government and she specialized solely in those areas. Then, another woman joined us who was an education expert. So, Barbara did education issues. Ruth did Health and Human Services issues. I did environment, judicial areas, law enforcement, election and liquor laws as well as all local and bi-county bills relating to planning, zoning, public water and recreation parks. I stayed away from budget. I left that for Tom. [laughter] In any case, the electronic transition now is really very positive. We can--we meaning the Office of Intergovernmental Relations because they changed the name--can get information almost instantaneously; when you're sitting in a committee hearing and you hear something, you can take your mobile phone, go out into the hall and call the department and say, "Get me a couple of paragraphs on such and such," and it comes in on your phone--you're sitting there or right on your laptop. So, you can pass a note to your Delegate or Senator saying, "Montgomery County government says, 'Be aware of this kind of an impact on that kind of a bill.'" Whereas, it used to take us days and cartons of files that we transported. There's an advantage in our new electronic world. The inability of too many young people to put down their devices and the ability of them to research immediately on some oftentimes dubious sources is astonishing, totally astonishing, and that result is not always positive and accurate.
MG: Backing up a bit, I know you had pursued you master's degree at George Washington University.
AM: Yes, I did that when I was working at the Holiday Park Senior Center. I felt that it would serve me well. They have an excellent government department at GW for master's and I applied there. As it happened, I started there and met a man who was a county council member here in Montgomery County. He was also in the master's program. He became someone who encouraged me. We would carpool together now and then. We would drive both of us to GW after work. Following the end of the first year, two semesters, it was getting very difficult for me, studying and working full-time and going to school at night and being out of the house the next morning at seven in the morning, and I'm a night owl more than a morning person. I was thinking, well maybe I'll just lay that aside for a while, seeking that master's degree, but he kept saying, "You can do it. You can do it. Stick with it. You'll see, it'll pay off." It really did. It was an excellent kind of experience. I was glad to be back at school. I was comfortable with mostly adults. We met in the Library of Congress, which is at the top of Capitol Hill, behind the Legislative Office buildings. High up in the Library of Congress, we could see the whole mall in front of us. It was a beautiful place to be, a little distracting because I wanted to look out the window during summertime and wintertime. I persevered because I really wanted to have that master's degree. It was just another ticket that I wanted punched. I really felt that I would feel better about completing my education with that behind me. We learned not only the history of legislation, but there were courses that GW offered in lobbying, in press relations, in different aspects of legislation, of bill writing. So, I'm glad I did it. It was very satisfying, but I needed the encouragement from another adult to say, you can keep at it and you can do it, we're not in there to get grades or to get into graduate school. We're in graduate school now! So, it worked well.
MG: How long did you work as a lobbyist?
AM: Ten years with Montgomery County government as a lobbyist. I was sort of a pioneer in some respects because the Senator--and I mentioned her name before, Idamae Garrott--decided to retire and she anointed, I guess is the word, one of the Delegates. There are three Delegates and one Senator for most all of the Maryland Legislative Districts. She said to Delegate Leonard H. Teitelbaum that she would like him to run for her seat, and he was fine with that. He was ready to move up. He had been in the House for a while. There was this open Delegate seat and truly I really hadn't thought of elective office. I was very happy in the Office of State Affairs and people were a little bit shocked that I even thought about it, but Delegate Teitelbaum said to me, "Would you be interested in running as a Delegate?" That sort of planted the seed, and I thought to myself, "Why not? I probably could do this job as well as the ones I've been observing here for ten years." So, I started thinking about it and during the legislative session, I asked Len whether or not he'd meet with me and tell me what he thought I should be doing, because I didn't really have an excellent grasp on campaigning. I remember we went to a restaurant one night, away from the historic complex in Annapolis, because I didn't want to be seen with an elected official and me a lobbyist. You know, "Why are you going to dinner with that guy?" He said to me, "I think you can do a good job, but I wonder whether or not you have the fire-in-the-belly." I remember those words. I thought to myself, "Do I? What do you mean 'the fire in the belly?' I got to know the issues. I enjoy interaction with people. I think I could serve." He said, "You're going to take yourself away from your family." I said, "Len, I've been doing that now for the past ten years, for four months every year." He said, "But the responsibility is quite different." He said, "You're going to take a cut in pay for sure." When I started, I think legislators were being paid twenty-three or twenty-four thousand in a year. He said, "It's a full year's job, although you're in session only three and a half months, January through second week of April." He said, "There are committee meetings in the interim. There are briefings. There are tours of other jurisdictions and there's constant constituent contact with you, by people expecting wonderful things from their elected official. That's what they put you there for." So, I really had a lot to think about. Manny says to this day that I never asked him what his thoughts were. I was so, I guess, engrossed, in trying to figure out, "Is this really what I want to do," because even though I was away from home, and when I came back, we had work to do because we were assigned to different departments to help them with certain policy issues during the year, I still basically had an eight thirty to five or six o'clock job. Whereas, Len was trying to explain to me that being an elected official, you have a twenty-four seven job and I told him about leaving the senior center and how I could never close my door. He reminded me; he said, "You can't close your door if you want to be reelected." So, I struggled with that for a while. I think I told Manny that this is what I was going to do and he said, "Well, go for it. If this is what you want to do, go for it. This is the time that you can do it." My first campaign was very challenging because I thought there might be--well, I knew that the other two Delegates would be running and I was the third. Len did endorse me, the sitting Delegate who was running for Senator, but three or four guys jumped into the race, and that was a little bit unexpected. I thought, "Well, I have ten years in Annapolis. I can certainly sell that to the voters. I have the experience. I have the knowledge. I have the academic credentials. I've been a precinct official. I know Democratic politics. I know what the party stands for when running as a Democrat. I have the endorsement of the man who has been in that open seat." I thought, "Maybe the two other Delegates who ran together as a group with Idamae Garrott would endorse me and put me on their slate." They didn't do it. They said it's open to whomever gets the votes. I was a little bit put off by that because I had worked with Delegates Carol Petzold and Hank Heller, the two Delegates who were my Delegates. I would never have thought to run to oppose one of my Delegates and there is a residency requirement. I wouldn't move to another district; I liked where I lived and I liked the people who represented me, but this seat came open and I decided to give it a try.
MG: Did you have Idamae Garrott's support, as well?
AM: Yes, I did. When she heard that I was running--again, it was during the session that I decided yes, I would do that and start campaigning over the summer--she invited me to her office and said she wanted to talk to me. She said, "You want my endorsement, don't you?" So, I said," Of course. I would welcome that." She said, "Well, I have some questions to ask you. How do you feel about the Inter-County Connector, the ICC?" Transportation was never something that I worked on for the ten years I was in the legislative liaison office. I was really not that familiar, other than the fact that I did represent the environmental department in our county government. There were people there who spoke to me often about what this road would do to the environment. First of all, it would bring traffic to a very highly residential area, cut right through. It would displace homes and there was some study going on about some endangered species in one of the creeks that it would go through, the Brown Trout. I decided personally I don't think that road is very important. In addition to the fact that it was being built pretty much too far up north, even though I lived up north in Montgomery County. Now, I live closer to the southern part of the county. I'm much nearer to the Washington DC boundary than I was before. The ICC is ten miles north of us now. However, the road was going to cost our citizenry throughout the State because it's a State road, lots and lots of money, and the financial aspects of how this was going to be funded was not familiar to me, but I knew where Senator Garrott stood because she was a very strong environmentalist. I said to myself, "I better tell her that I oppose the intercounty connector." I got her endorsement. I wasn't lying because I'm more of an environmentalist than a we-need-more-transportation person, and the more I learned the more I became a very strong anti-ICC advocate. The road got built unfortunately, and it has impacted the State's ability to fund much more needed transportation opportunities throughout Maryland, and it is underutilized now. Ten years from now, it may be more highly utilized, but at this point there are many excuses being made for why it's underutilized. Maybe the maximum speed is too low. The first year or two that the road was available, I refused to travel on it, once we were coming home from somewhere and really needed to get home; Manny was driving and I said, "Well, I'm just going to hunch down, nobody is going to see me in the car on the ICC." It's a toll road and it did displace a lot of the community. It's an eighteen-mile toll road.
MG: Well, tell me a little more about this first campaign. Where do you start? How do you find support?
AM: I didn't know. I got some advice from the people that I worked with, Len and Idamae, and I had a friend who helped one of our county executives get elected, Sue Shoenberg. She labeled herself a campaign adviser and she said, "Of course I'll be your campaign adviser," and we drew up a contract. This was not a friendship thing. I would hire her and pay her to advise me and she said. "First of all, you need some good action shot pictures, and then you need to figure out in your own mind, what is your base of support." I said, "My colleagues in the county government, but these other people were jumping into the race." I said, "This guy has a family restaurant here. He and his ancestors have been in the community for many, many years." This other one has been very active, even in my own neighborhood. I said, "What is my base of support? Who's going to support me?" She said, "You keep in touch with your friends from high school, don't you? Some from college?" "Yes." "Well, you have to get somebody to start writing to your high school friends." I keep in touch with six women from high school and we travel with our spouses to a house in Vermont. It's owned by one of the women in New Jersey--only two of us moved out of New Jersey, my friend in Florida and me--and we get together at her Vermont home every year for a little reunion. I told the girls what I was planning and they all thought it was very interesting, but they thought it was pie in the sky. "She's going to be an elected official? Our friend Adrienne?" "Yes, maybe she will." Myrna Loman would always say, "She was always very active in college. She got Governor Meyner to come to Rutgers and she did a lot of student government work at Rutgers." So, Myrna and I, who were both at Rutgers, knew that would be my eventual goal. My kindergarten girlfriend always said, "It is not whether or not Adrienne will run for office, it is just when." As we were leaving Vermont in 1994, Arlene knocked on our car window and said to me, "I have something for you." I said, "Oh, what do you have for me?" She opened her purse and took out five dollars. At that time, I hadn't even filed as an official candidate. She said, "Here is your first campaign contribution." I never spent that five dollars. I still have it in a file somewhere and I'm going to give it back to Arlene this year at our Vermont reunion. But I took a course in campaigning for women, and I talked to a lot of people, and Myrna volunteered to start writing to some of my high school friends. I started talking to people about having coffees, and my daughter volunteered to be the coffee chair of the campaign. My son, who is not a Democrat, he's a businessman and allies with the Republican Party, also assisted. We don't discuss politics, but he always said he would be helping me because I'm his mother and he believes in me. He would help my husband and my grandson, a little guy, would come and help Manny too. We used to have to pound wooden sticks into the ground for lawn signs. Now they have wires that slip inside the plastic folder, and push gently into the soil and that's your lawn sign. So, Zachary used to go out with my husband and help plant lawn signs. We had a big backyard. I had my first campaign fundraiser in our backyard. It was Halloween after the hot summer of campaigning, knocking on doors. To me, it was an awful experience from the point of view of the hot summer, out in all kinds of weather, not being a morning person, although, for work, at Office of State Affairs, I was there every morning at eight thirty. But to get yourself dressed and up, feeling "up" and energized was not for me. I made the dining room table our office and the front den in our house became the campaign office. Manny's stuff got moved off of the whole wall to wall desk there. It was very demanding to be campaigning. I can tell you some stories about the campaign. I spoke with most of the people in the residential neighborhoods because I could begin to campaign at three or four o'clock in the afternoon. During the time from eight or nine in the morning until twelve or one, there were reams of questionnaires to answer from every advocacy group imaginable. There were discussions with existing Senators and Delegates, who tried to inform me and many of them were helpful, although they wouldn't endorse. Idamae and Len did endorse, but nobody else. There was planning for coffees and teas. Everything was done on a one to one personal basis, not like today's ads on television, but the local cable news channel in Montgomery County had forums. There were also many forums sponsored by major organizations that I had to prepare for and know their issues, what was on their mind. So, between writing answers to questionnaires, preparing for forums and knocking on doors every day, it was exhausting, totally, physically and mentally, and emotionally exhausting. I remember the mornings when I just wanted to stay in bed, and my husband would say to me, "Nobody is forcing you to do this. Now, if you want to do it, you got to give it your all," and that kind of encouragement was great. He would drive me when he could on Sundays mostly, and I'll never forget, one of my opponents was a man whose family owned a big restaurant here in Montgomery County. We were campaigning in the same neighborhood and it was getting dark, seven thirty, quarter of eight, summer, and I was walking the same direction as he - back to my car and he offered me a ride back to my car. Manny would drop me off sometimes and then go about his business and then later bring the car back to the neighborhood where he dropped me. But having walked down eight or ten or twelve fifteen streets door knocking--and we'd have our list of Democratic voters with us and the campaign brochures that we're giving out, at the end of the day, I was tired. Oh, what I'd have to do in mornings was to create brochures, because I had a committee but the work was really mine to do. Palm cards, brochures, another photography session because when I showed Sue some pictures that I had, "Oh," she said, "That's awful." I'll soon tell you about going to a helicopter pad. So, it was a very busy time and I was knocking on this one door. The person opened the door and said, "Yes, can I help you? Oh my goodness, I didn't realize it was raining out." I looked around and I said, "No, it's not raining." I didn't realize I was dripping. I literally was dripping. I needed a campaign color, which was purple, so I pretty much wore the same purple dress when I went door knocking every day. I'd take it home and throw it into the washing machine and wash it and freshen it up. I think I finally, twenty years later, gave away that dress. It was a sort of a souvenir. It was good; people would say, "Oh, she's the purple lady. Yes, yes, I know you. I'm voting for you." I got to know a woman in the neighborhood, an African American woman who volunteered in the campaign. She was very helpful. She went around to some of the churches and got me opportunities to speak. She later volunteered in my legislative office and helped with bills. I spoke at an Asian church, a Black church, Orthodox synagogues, conservative or reformed temples. I used some friends who were active in each of those venues to speak with other people and to interest them so that Lisa could plan coffees in different neighborhoods. It was a really exciting, but demanding experience. I enjoyed the one on one contact. I enjoyed hearing what was on people's minds. I wasn't sure that I was going to win and I wasn't sorry that I was putting out this effort because it was a worthwhile experience. The family was all--two kids and a grandkid--involved, but they all had their own lives, so it really was up to me to put out the effort and see what kind of results we got. Of five people running for three seats, I came in third. The two incumbents came in first and second and I came in third. To me, a hundred-dollar donation was a huge donation and I only got a hundred dollars from one person who lived in the community, in the district that I was looking to represent. I was so startled, I did a little research and found that the person was connected with the effort to have public funds go into assisting the horse racing industry. I decided I was not going to support that in any way shape or form and I returned the hundred dollars. My campaign advisers and little committee, kitchen cabinet, thought, "You shouldn't have done that. You can use that. We need to publish another brochure, some more palm cards. You need to have good refreshments at your next fundraiser." I said, "I just won't do it. I won't say thank you to somebody when I know I'm going to oppose that person's interests." I felt I did the right thing. Now, I've since learned over the years that because somebody supports your campaign gives you no obligation to do their bidding. Part of the beauty of having three Delegates from the district is Carol and I often disagreed on issues and if somebody came to try to convince me to vote X,Y, or Z, I would very comfortably say, "We agree to disagree, but we do it in a very cordial way and why don't you go and talk to Carol because she believes as you do and that's what makes our democracy work." But initially, I was fearful that I'd feel that kind of pressure from the person who gave a hundred dollars to support my campaign because that was a lot of money back in--'94 during my first campaign. So, I think I brought you up to date with my first year. By the way, I had to expend a lot of cash--for me, now it's pittance in terms of what is being spent for Delegate campaigns today. I guess I put five, six thousand dollars into my campaign. Sue, who was my initial campaign adviser, said to me, "Don't worry about it." I said, "What do you mean don't worry about it?" "Well, you lent it to your campaign." By the way, many mornings were spent doing financial reporting, which had to be done quite frequently. The wife of the man who was my treasurer knew computer skills. So, I would transfer the information to him and all the campaign contributions would come into the treasurer's address, but then he would sit with me because he'd want me to know who was supporting me, and I never remembered who it was anyway. [laughter] People would come to a fundraiser and I wouldn't stand at the door when they would be registering and contributing. I never was able to keep in my head who exactly were the people who were supporting me. I didn't really feel that that was important. It was important for me to get a notion as to what the constituents in the majority in the community I represented wanted and to try to carry that forward unless it was an issue that was adverse to my own moral compass. There were very few of those issues because I was out there telling people what my belief system was. The helicopter:
AM: Sue wanted action shots for the brochure. In fact, I have some of the brochures here, I can show you. She said, "County government has eight helicopter stations throughout the county." We have over three hundred square miles of territory. "Why don't you go up to the station here and talk to one of the pilots and stand in front of the helicopter because it shows that you're engaged in doing something because the community has to support this." These are the Medevac Helicopters. I did that and the pilots were very cordial and helpful and walked out to the helicopter pad and said, "Do you want to climb in?" I said, "No, thank you. I don't need to climb in. I'll just stand here and they'll get a good picture." With that, I'm standing there and I'm wearing a green cotton dress. It's the middle of the summer. All of a sudden, I hear a sound and it gets louder and louder and louder. People are running out of the helicopter station. We're standing right in front of the "bird" that is going to take off any minute and they're jumping in there. The man that I'm talking to, a pilot or the official--these are all police helicopters--pulls me away, but the propellers are already going and my skirt is blowing up. Manny was there with me. He caught a picture. It was not going to be the official picture of the skirt blowing up and I brought it to Sue. I said, "You wanted an action picture, here's an action picture." But it was a wonderful experience. The money that I lent the campaign, Sue said, "It will come back to you." I said, "What do you mean come back to me?" "Once you're elected and you do a good job, people will want to reelect you in four years and in eight years," and it did happen that way. I didn't believe it at the time, but it did happen that way. During the second campaign, and the third campaign we were a slate. We ran together, Len, the new Senator, and Carol, Hank, and I. So, it turned out okay.
MG: One of the things you write about is how the states are sort of laboratories for different laws and programs that get enacted. I was curious what kinds of changes you were seeing.
AM: Yes. What I was seeing was that I became active in the legislature in the process of writing bills and focusing on issues that I thought were important to the community. However, I also became actively involved in women's issues. After a few years, I became President of the Women's Caucus and very proud to say, although I didn't do the recruiting, that particular year that I was President, we had the first highest number of women elected officials in all the state legislature. I must tell you that I wouldn't have ended up at Rutgers-Newark if the institute at Rutgers that Ruth Mandel started was already in New Brunswick or at Douglass College. You may have the name of the Institute for Women. [Editor's Note: Ms. Mandel is referring to the Eagleton Institute of Politics. Ruth B. Mandel founded and directed the Eagleton's Center for American Women and Politics from 1971 to 1994. She is now the Director of the Eagleton Institute for Politics. The Eagleton Institute of Politics conducts research into and provides current data about politics and government. As part of the Eagleton Institute, the Center for American Women and Politics provides scholarly research and data about women in politics and government and examines women's leadership and involvement in politics.] It's a Women's Institute at Rutgers now. It was not in existence in the mid-'50s when I was going to college. Because I had a four-year full tuition scholarship, I think could've used it either place, but to me, Rutgers-Newark had the kind of government department that I wanted, but the Ruth Mandel's Institute--nothing to do with my name or my husband's name or family, was one of the initiators of this women's institute and they're now known throughout the United States. In fact, they're quoted in the Washington Post often when it talks about women's issues and statistics.
AM: Okay, here I am in my first year as a Delegate. I was part of the largest freshman class in many years, sixty-one new Delegates, which was then over forty percent of the House of Delegates itself until the 2014 election when it was superseded. The Speaker of the House, Casper Taylor, from Western Maryland arranged an orientation tour of the whole state for all the freshman Delegates. That was a great awakening for me because I had not been out to Western Maryland, so I didn't know about the fact that their needs were quite different than Montgomery County, a very rural area. It's a very small-town atmosphere. I knew that because of having served in the legislative liaison office and heard the testimony of many people from Western Maryland. I also knew that the issues in southern Maryland were very different, resort communities near the beach. That gave me a little bit of an edge, but I also knew where the ladies bathroom was in the Statehouse, which some of the incoming Delegates and Senators didn't. So, I had a bit of an edge, but not really that much. What I didn't know was quite an awakening. I didn't know how tight the committee system was. I didn't know all the backdoor maneuvering that went on. I knew that when I was a lobbyist one day, I was walking with one of the Delegates, trying to convince him about a certain issue and I was so engrossed in the job I was performing that he walked me right into the men's bathroom. I will never forget that very quick moment. Lobbyists were not allowed in the back rooms. I didn't know how much power both the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and the committee chairs, who were appointed by the President and the Speaker, how much power committee chairs had. They could deep six a bill in a drawer and it would never see the light of day without any discussion other than with the Delegate or Senator who sponsored the bill. "Where's my bill? Why isn't it on this week for hearing?" "Oh, we'll get to it, we'll get to it. I'm trying to group same topical areas together." Never got to it, but it was there in the drawer. I often quoted Margaret Mead, and this took me back to my days as an advocate, as a lobbyist, as a precinct official hearing people's interests and views-- "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Those words were so evident just last month. I went on the Women's March last month. [Editor's Note: The 2017 Women's March was a worldwide protest that took place on January 21, 2017, following the election and inauguration of Donald Trump. The protest was the largest in United States History and sought to advocate and raise awareness for civil rights, gender equality, environmental issues, worker's rights and other human rights issues.]
AM: I was there from seven in the morning until four thirty in the afternoon when I was ready to collapse. Next to the Obama Inauguration, for me personally, the March was marvelous!--and this is bringing you up to today and I'll get back to the rest of it. I went with my daughter and a bunch of friends. I had tickets for the inauguration of Obama, not tickets to sit, but tickets to stand behind the reflecting pool. That to me was glorious, but this Women's March was even more so. Anyhow, to get back, it's that kind of advocacy, that kind of grass roots, I learned, was very important in the legislature. I did not get my first choice of committee, because I wanted to be on the Environmental Matters Committee, but Leon Billings, Delegate Leon Billings, who was in the legislature at least eight years before I came, was one of Senator Edmund Muskie's aids and he helped write the Environmental Laws. So, he was very much needed from Montgomery County on the Environmental Matters Committee and I got appointed to Commerce and Government Matters. It was a committee with whatever they didn't know where to put any place else, they dumped into CGM, such as consumer law, election law, ethics, local government laws, civil rights, religious freedom, minority business enterprise, vehicle laws. Now, I want to tell you a bit about the whole vehicle law business. Well, let me first tell you what I felt like when I was first on the floor of the House. It was very intimidating. The chairs were enormous. To even move them to get into the aisle was very difficult. I was fortunate; I was placed next to a veteran Montgomery County Delegate who sat on my right and he was a vice chair of a committee and was very helpful. We had bill books, these little leather type books with all the bills that were being debated, heard, that got out of committee, and came to the floor each day, were listed. They were put together every morning by the Pages. I knew that because our daughter had been a Page in Annapolis. So, I knew what the Pages were doing and we could see the maroon coated young people on the floor, even when I was working for the Office of State Affairs. We had these bill books and there were state troopers. They were the police force that protected the elected officials inside the State House and they kept order and watch over the audience, the participants, the lobbyists; they helped maintain the decorum in the entire body. We did not have digital read outs telling advocates when their bills would come up. I believe they have some of that now. So, my first couple of days there I felt quite intimidated and being right next to the aisle, in the back of the chamber--Montgomery County was a large delegation, we happen to be the back of the chamber, other than one of our guys was a Majority Leader, so he was up front. But there was a state trooper guarding the main door located right behind our delegation. Every once in a while--I will never forget this, it was startling to me--he would go like this and he would start this conversation. He'd be standing there like this, talking into his wrist. I said to myself, "What is going on?" and I would nudge Delegate/Vice Chair Mike Gordon next to me. I knew Mike because he was at one time the chair of the Montgomery County delegation. When I was working as a legislative liaison lobbyist from Montgomery County, I got to know him as the chair. He said, "He's communicating with his buddy upstairs." I said, "What do you mean 'communicating with his buddy upstairs?'" To me, it was like seeing what I used to hear about. Who was that guy on the radio? Dick Tracy. Dick Tracy used to have a gizmo on his hand and talk into his wrist and that was going on right next to me, live, in-person on the floor of the House. This trooper was communicating with the trooper in the balcony who was letting people in, certain numbers at a time, to sit and watch the proceedings of the legislature. So, I got used to that. Two Delegates shared almost all of the offices. Montgomery County had a wing in the office building, in the House Office Building, and I shared an office with an attorney who was a Delegate, and he said to me one day that he was working on a bill about drunk driving. He said, "You might be interested in this." He said, "You have teenage grandkids, don't you?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Come and listen to the testimony if you can leave your committee." I said, "Okay." So, I went into the Judiciary Committee with him and I heard testimony from an emergency medical technician, and this helped chart the course of my legislative career. I get emotional, even today, talking about it. This is probably the '96 session, 1996. The EMT said, and his voice cracked, "I'm tired of picking up young children off our highways." I took a deep breath when I heard that and I sat and listened. When I got back to the office later that day, I said to Gilbert "Gil" Genn, my colleague from Montgomery County, "Tell me about Maryland's laws about driving." "Well," he said, "You must know, your kids went through it. Fourteen days on a learners' permit, and then a couple of months on a provisional and then they're drivers." I said, "Yes, my daughter did okay, but we got a call from my son one night." His car--our car of course, that he borrowed--he was sixteen, just going on seventeen was stuck. When you were fifteen and three-quarters you could get a learners' permit that could terminate with a test in two weeks, fourteen days later. Next, you'd have on a three months provisional and then off you go, you're a driver. David called us and his car was stuck on the median somewhere. "What do you mean stuck, David? How did the car get on the median?" "Well, I must have made that turn too wide or something." Anyhow, Lisa even drove into some bushes because how to steer and how to turn doesn't happen in fourteen days. So, Gil and I started talking about this, and I said, "This is outrageous. Nobody learns to drive in fourteen days." "Oh, the high schools give them some driving courses if they're not already overburdened with other things the kids have to learn." I was astonished and angry and fearful, not just for my kids and grandkids because fortunately my kids had only encountered fender benders and my husband spent a lot of time with each of them in the car suprervising their driving. My son was a little bit car crazy. He bought himself some three-hundred-dollar MG-something at one point that he used to take apart and find other MGs that he could put parts into. I was fortunate, but the statistics I started hearing from driving school people were enormous; that young people were the highest statistical cohort for crashes and loss of life than any other of the age cohorts. So, I decided that something should be done. I introduced a bill and the Speakers of the House formed a task force to study the issue; I was appointed to serve on the task force. I researched and I outlined the problems about driving laws and licensing and I learned the causes of teen crashes. I spoke to physicians, neurologists, learned that the teen brain really doesn't develop sufficiently in order to react quickly until age twenty-five, and this is now information that's been validated by many studies. There are distractions when there are other teens in the car. These teens, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, are driving with what they call "party barges" piling a lot of kids in the cars. The seatbelt laws were just passed when I was a lobbyist in Annapolis, and I have a souvenir I can show you. It was Senator Frank Shore from Montgomery County who lobbied for seatbelt laws. So, I decided that this highway safety issue would be something worthwhile pursuing, not just for Montgomery County but for the whole state. I got to the point where I phrased a sort of mantra of the four I's, inexperience, inattention, immaturity, and most importantly, invulnerability. Teen drivers think, "Nothing can happen to me. This is just a car, it'll do what I tell it to do. If I turn my face away to talk to somebody in the backseat, what happens?" So, in 1997, I introduced the graduated licensing law for the state of Maryland, not just Montgomery County. We were one of the first states to institute a three-tiered driving system for new drivers, either teen or adult; if an adult had never had their license either. Nothing happened in '96 when I was beginning to work on this, but the appointed Task Force had many experts who served. They were very helpful in suggesting good language for the bill. I had great support from AAA Maryland and from parents whose teens had been involved in crashes. They came to testify in Annapolis. The bill moved out of committee and we expanded the time on a learner's permit from fourteen days to six months and no driving at all when you're on your learner's permit without a licensed driver in the car; additional hours of practice with a licensed driver and a standardized curriculum for the privately operated driver's schools because the high schools were no longer offering good driving education experiences for the young people. Their students had many more academic issues to learn. Driving schools were filling that gap, but every driving school had a different curriculum and parents never knew exactly what they were getting when they were paying for this very important opportunity for their children. The bill also required eighteen months on a provisional instead of just a couple of months with no moving violations, rather than the three months that existed before and no teens in the car other than family members for the first six months on a provisional. If a rookie driver had any moving violations when on a provisional license, the driver went back to square one of the law. So, you'd think that there'd be no opposition to this because many of the Delegates and Senators had children. They were interested in the children being able to drive. But the day of the vote, when the bill had already moved out of committee, a woman Delegate came up to me on the floor of the House (and the bill has actually three votes that it takes to pass. It has the introduction. It's not a vote, and then first reader and second reader, and the second reader determines whether or not it passes). This was the second reader when the vote was really going to be taken. She said to me, "What are you doing to me?" I said, "What am I doing to you?" She replied, "You mean I'm going to have to drive my kids for another six or eighteen months?" She started citing all the provisions of this new law, which we were hoping to pass, all the provisions that imposed on her more responsibilities. I said to her, very calmly, "You're talking about a little inconvenience and I'm talking about saving lives." She turned and walked away. But I was so shocked to hear that coming from a mother who wanted her kids to have the fourteen days and the three months so that she would not be burdened with having to drive them. We went on from there. I have to tell you a story that stays with me, that has to do with my family. My grandson was a junior in high school and he had some friends who were eligible for their license. He was not yet eligible because he was not fifteen and three-quarters. I think that's still the law in Maryland, fifteen and three-quarters for your learner's permit. He called me one night--by the way, I lived in Annapolis for those five days, four nights, came home every weekend when I could, when we weren't in session. Sometimes Manny would come down to Annapolis. I said, "Oh, Zac, glad to talk to you. What's on your mind?" "Mom-Mom," (I'm his mother's mom, so, Mom-Mom, not grandma or grandmother) "my friends, some of those older guys, are really angry at you." "Why are they angry at me? I don't even know them Zachary. What's going on?" "Well, they know you're my grandmother and you're making it more difficult to get the driver's license." I said, "Yes Zachary. You know I've been telling you about this." He said, "Well, I want you to know, Mom-Mom, that's okay. You're doing the right thing and that's what I told them." That was such a glorious moment in my life. Molly, you can't imagine how that made me feel that he was able to say to the guys, "My grandmother's doing the right thing." So, that was one of those very touching times and the driver educators were glad that there was standardized curriculum. They were glad to know that when the parents paid them for their services they were getting something of quality, and we were in the forefront in many, many states in passing the law in '97. MD Driver Education Association invited me to go to New Orleans, to their national conference, so I could speak there to enable others in communities throughout the United States to try to have the same kind of advocacy. It has proliferated all over the United States in the past decades. There was a study done some five or six years after the law was passed that showed it has been a life-saving measure. So, that is truly my proudest accomplishment in the legislature. The Commerce and Government Matters Committee, which dealt with vehicle laws, went out of existence after my first term. I asked to be assigned to the Health and Government Matters Committee because Leisure World is a completely senior community about a mile from where I used to live, six thousand seniors in the community. I know that health issues are very important to that community and I thought that would be a good place for me. I spent the next eight years, two additional terms, in the health committee and focused on financial abuse of seniors, on a crisis in nursing, and the nursing crises issue bubbled up to me from one of my neighbors who had the husband's father in the hospital and the wife's mother in a Baltimore City hospital at the same time. Steve came to me and said that if he hadn't sat by the bedside of his father, his father might have died in the hospital because the nursing care was so non-available and Shelly, his wife, was saying the same thing and her mother was in a different hospital. I said, "Steve what do you want me to do?" He said, "Do something. The legislature should know that there's a terrible shortage of nurses." So, one of the Montgomery County Delegates who was more of a veteran than I, was a nurse initially before she was a Delegate. She was no longer working as a nurse and there was another woman from Baltimore who was a nurse. I got together with them and we formed a task force, the Crisis in Nursing in Maryland. We had representatives from the medical society, from the Nurses Association, from the Hospital Association. We worked out legislation in order to give a more seamless ability for nurses to move from the CNA, Certified Nurse Assistants, to the Registered Nurse, and then on to the three different levels of a ladder in the nursing profession. Also, State scholarships were enhanced through the legislation and we became the victims of our own success. I didn't really realize when I started to get involved in that issue that something so positive could happen. We achieved many nurses going into the middle schools to interest students, men and women, girls and boys, about the nursing profession. The victim of our own success was that there were more applicants for the nursing schools than there were faculty to teach. The other end of the spectrum was being neglected and that's being addressed over the years since I've been in the legislature, encouraging more senior nursing people to go into faculty positions, at least maybe even part-time, if they want to continue doing hands-on nursing.
MG: Recently the Republicans introduced the American Health Care Act.
AM: ACA, yes.
MG: With your background in health care, what are your thoughts about what the proposal would do or what you think is a good solution?
AM: I wish I had a solution because greater minds than I who have been immersed in this for many, many years beginning with Hillary Rodham Clinton have not found a solution. My attitude is the following: it was a struggle to craft the legislation. Hillary was damned by many aspects of the medical profession, the pharmacists, the nurses, the doctors, the recipients of health care because they allege that her efforts were put together in the dark without sunshine on it. Obama was criticized. AARP was criticized for their colluding with the legislators to make certain things happen. There was a lot of criticism of both efforts. Fortunately, ACA was enacted. Does it have flaws? Yes, it has flaws. Our own son stood here in the kitchen and he has a wife and a daughter and showed us--he's an individual businessman, he operates his own firm, he hires contractors to work for him, but he's a one man operation. He showed us what health care is costing him today. I was astonished. I was blown away. What plans he had to choose from here in Maryland, now because of ACA, are diminishing. The small business person is hurt. The costs keep going up. There are, as I say, many flaws in ACA, but there were many flaws in the concept of Social Security when that was introduced too. This is a major, major program. I told you in the initial part of my interview how I worked for the state of New Jersey Department of Institutions and Agencies. What a mouthful of words that is. I don't know what they call it now, but this was back in 1959, '60. We had the Aid to Families with Dependent Children [AFDC] program that came out of the Johnson years. There were flaws in it. Nothing is perfect and you can't let perfection be the enemy of the good. I learned that legislating is an incremental process. That's why the legislators meet every year, except for Nevada where I think it's every other year. One of the states had every other year, maybe still does. You get a bill into law and build on that base and correct the flaws. It's called amending the law. You introduce a bill that may be nothing more than amendments to an existing law and you see how that works and how it has impact on your community, on your residents, on the people involved in the particular aspect of law. Are there unintended consequences? Then, the next year, if there are flaws, you improve it, but the promises made by this current crop of people in our United States Capitol were unreal. I feel they were not truthful because I think the legislators in the Congress today knew that they were just throwing out a lot of hype to those people who feel that this ACA is not doing well by them. Well, my son feels the same way, but you don't throw--to be trite--the baby out with the bath water. I hope that the current Congress will work on the areas that need improvement and not just sit on their hands because this ACA effort has failed for some people. I thought the effort was not perfect for some. I think it engendered more problems than originally apparent. So, I hope that there will be current attention on it. I feel very good about the Maryland delegation in Congress and one of them is a Republican and he's a physician. Andy Harris is a physician. We have a new congressman, because my congressman, Chris Van Hollen was elected to the Senate seat formerly held by Senator Barbara Hikulski. I have the greatest respect for Chris. I know him. I served in the Maryland State Legislature with him. We worked on bills together. The new congressman, Jamie Raskin, is a constitutional law professor. This is a total immersion job for him and I think he's a knowledgeable, strategic and excellent thinker. So, I think there are good people in Congress today, not only in Maryland. There are many Republicans who did not support the ACA law. However, the reasons among many factions are different. If they're members of the Freedom Caucus, they believe that ACA should be completely repealed. But there are thinking Republicans as well who know that these ACA changes are all so interrelated to what we're trying to accomplish and there must be real affordability built into what they are proposing. So, we'll have to see how this unfolds.
MG: I'm going to ask you to describe your day to day operations and what a day in your life was like back then.
AM: Oh, okay. I'll be glad to tell you that. Before I get into the typical day, let me just tell you that in the fourth year of my second term was when I was elected President of the Women Legislators, that was a great honor. We had sixty-two women that year which was one-third of the General Assembly. It was a high percentage nationally. I also served on the Executive Board of the National Foundation for Women Legislators and we had national conferences each year. That was an excellent opportunity to network and get to exchange information among women legislators all over the United States. In addition to the legislative conferences that each region of the United States put on every year, and I attended some of those as well, this was another opportunity. We were addressed by many members of Congress and not only women members of congress, but you can see on my ego wall in the house, I have pictures with John McCain and Joe Biden and got to know people in our federal government as well. I travelled nationally to many of these conferences and I was very proud to return home and tell my colleagues, my fellow Delegates and Senators, that I saw how advanced and progressive Maryland really is as a State, and I was very proud to be one of the representatives from Maryland. I'm reminded of the words of Congresswoman Bella Abzug, who said quite aptly, "the face of politics and governing has changed because women change the nature of power, rather than power changing the nature of women." We really do have a different attitude in the halls of government. It used to be "women's issues," but now it's human issues. I think the guys have finally "gotten it"; all issues are human issues, not women's or men's issues. Many of them have come aboard to assist with issues that have to do with children and families, and that's a positive step in the right direction. That brings me to tell you a bit about what my day in the legislature was like. It's not really always a typical day, but there was never enough time to sit and brief and talk with and get input from the Legislative Aide in my office. That's the only full-time person that each of the Maryland State Legislators have. Senators have more staff than Delegates, have more State funds in order to hire people. We were able to hire interns, part-time people, to work with us, but I missed sufficient time to talk with the Legislative Aide, to decide which bills to sponsor, which bills to co-sponsor, which bills to introduce each year. I would always ask her to do an initial draft of my testimony as a bill sponsor that I would have to present to the committee. I would redo a lot of it because she wasn't speaking through my mind and voice. After a while, she was with me for twelve years, which was highly unusual, she could write in my voice. Her tenure with my certainly says something about my relationship with staff. I was pleased that Sue and I still try to see each other once a month and she was more experienced than I as a staff person in Annapolis. She had worked for other Delegates before she came to work for me but never anybody for twelve years. I'd arrive at the office usually a little before eight because there were caucus meetings at eight or eight thirty: the Women's Caucus, the Green Environmental Caucus, the Democratic Caucus. So, that's three mornings already, eight o'clock caucus meetings. Between the end of the caucus meeting and ten o'clock I would try to have a few minutes with the Legislative Aide and the Secretary. Those were the two full-time people in the office. The Secretary often was shared with the other Delegate in my office; the Secretary did the scheduling, which became easier through programs on the computer, but initially it wasn't. The mail and the invitations were just overwhelming. I'll divert for one moment and tell you about my first night when I was a freshman in Annapolis and there were twelve or thirteen receptions going on to welcome the new legislative year. They take place, some in the office buildings, but others in hotels and restaurants. There's a circle in Annapolis and the State House is in the middle of the circle. It was evening, in winter, the second week of January, and all the Delegates and Senators were running in and out of all the receptions sponsored by advocacy groups and by those who are interested in the issues that are facing the legislature. They're giving new legislators gifts. This was before we tightened, and I was on the committee when we tightened, our ethics laws. The gifts were not of much value, nothing but a lot of coffee cups, banners, pins, towels, anything with the insignia, the logo, of the particular group, t-shirts. At one point, I said to a new Delegate friend that I had just met and we were walking in and out of these receptions together, "It feels like Halloween." It feels as though we were going knocking on doors saying, "Anything for Halloween?" Our arms were laden with stuff, which then got displayed on shelves in my legislative office, but initially it seemed to be so silly. No actual substantive discussions could take place in these huge receptions. As a result of twenty-two years in Annapolis because lobbyists go to receptions, or host them themselves--Montgomery County sometimes had a welcoming reception for Delegates--I vowed that when I retired from the Legislature that I would never stand up and eat again. I try not to do that. I do not like that kind of juggling a cup, a plate and a fork and a napkin, and a beverage and trying to talk at the same time. I mean, I try to avoid it. Anyway, I'm going to get back to the typical day in the life of a legislator in Annapolis. We have our morning caucuses at least three days a week for each of them. Ten o'clock, something happens. The bells start ringing to call everybody to the floor. Being on the floor, believe it or not, is not like being on the floor in Congress. If you tune into C-SPAN and you see what's going on in Congress, sometimes you'll see ten or twenty Members on the floor. Being on the floor in our State Legislature was considered sacrosanct. You had to get permission from the Speaker of the House if you were to be absent. That would be an excused absence. Sometimes when a reporter would see you missing from the floor they would allege that you had taken a "walk" on an issue. So, you should have gotten that excuse from the Speaker of the House before you left the floor because the allegation was you didn't want your vote recorded. Sometimes floor sessions at the beginning of the session were brief. I'd be off the floor by quarter of eleven. Ceremonial activities would take place: the introduction of a new member, new members saying congratulations for X,Y, or Z, or wishing somebody well who's not well. At one o'clock we would be expected to be in Committees. The Committees ran early or very late at night, depending upon the number of bills that the Chairman of the Committee had scheduled--and sometimes there were eight or nine and sometimes there were twelve, fifteen, and eighteen bills scheduled for hearing on a particular day because they did try to pull topical areas together. Hearings were interminable and many people said that I was a very good "camel." I could sit for quite a long time without a bathroom break and sometimes toward the end of the day in hearings, in committee hearings, I'd start feeling tired. We were not supposed to eat on the floor, definitely not. In Committee, I might have something in the drawer that I'd try to "sneak" to eat because toward the end of my second session, televised hearings for local cable channels began and nobody wanted to be caught with food in their mouth or falling asleep. What was my trick? Even though there may have been ten or twelve bills on hearing, there may have been only six or eight that I thought were important to my constituents or me, or to the State in general. Every bill didn't affect each legislator very, very deeply. So, I would look at the hearing list, and have a file made in the office as bills came in. The files would be assigned to different places in the filing cabinets, according to my committee or Gil Genn's committee, with whom I shared the office. I would review each file the night before as the bill came up in Committee, and read the bill and think of questions I'd want to ask the people who were testifying. That would keep me alert because after the answer would come from the person testifying I might have a follow-up question. People did comment to me, both constituents who were in Annapolis and those who were down there advocating for particular positions, that I was a very good questioner who brought out information that needed to be heard by members of the committee so we'd be better informed. That's how I kept myself going, focused and awake. During the evenings, there must have been receptions pretty much every night. Some of them were open just to particular Committees. Most of them were open to all members of the General Assembly. Toward the end of the session, mid-March and early-April, we had voting sessions that often stretched to eight or nine PM because there was really strong and good debate within the Committee itself and a majority vote of the Members was needed to move a bill out of Committee. All the receptions were pretty much just social events, unless a particular bill was being represented by one of the lobbying firms and the lobbying firms would host small dinner receptions for Committee members. At those events, the advocates for the particular position would be invited, be it the medical community, particular doctors or nurses, or whatever. Most of the receptions were just these huge events. After receptions or dinner with colleagues, I'd get back to my apartment. We had a choice to either rent a hotel room or rent an apartment. We were given a per diem to do that by the State, by the taxpayers. By eight or nine o'clock at night, I would begin to look at my bill files for the next day, look at where I would have to be-- two and three, and sometimes even four different Committees at the same time, where my bills that I was the lead sponsor on were assigned, in order to present testimony, at least the initial testimony. For those bills that weren't on hearing, I would be writing testimony at night when I got back to the apartment for the bills that were coming up in future weeks. Sometimes I didn't get to sleep until midnight or one o'clock, but I really loved every minute of every day. I felt productive. It was a satisfying environment. It was challenging. When I decided to run for Senate, I did that with my eyes wide open. I knew that Len was leaving and he would like me to follow in his footsteps, but I also knew that Carol, the other female Delegate colleague, felt that she had four more years serving in the Legislature than I and she decided to run too. What neither Carol nor I knew was that a man in our community, who was politically active, President of the local Democratic club, was going to decide to run. He had asked to meet with me over the summer before Len had announced that he was going to retire. He said to me that he would like to run for Delegate and he heard that I might be running for Senator and would I support him as a Delegate. I said, "First of all, I don't even know if our Senator is retiring. You say he is, but he hasn't told me that." I said, "Second of all, I would not have any idea at this point who the pool of candidates to be a Delegate would be. So, how could I commit to you now that I would support you?" He, at the local Starbucks--I remember we were sitting outside--said, "Well, without your support, and I have 160,000 dollars in the bank, I'm going to oppose you for Senator." I thought, "Oh, he's just speaking out the top of his head," but that's what happens. Carol and I split the votes, and Mike walked in. Mike served one term. After the second week or third he was in Annapolis, it was reported to me that he was taken to the woodshed by the President of the Senate, who said to him, "Young man, you're a freshman. Sit in your seat and learn." So, Carol and I remain friends. We see each other at different events; I was ready to lose or win. I loved to be down there for the three terms I served. It was a great honor and a great humbling experience as well, but I knew that Carol could win or I could win. I never knew that somebody would walk-in with deep pockets from his law firm and blow the two of us out of the water with promises that could not be fulfilled. It sort of reminds me of the promises we've been hearing from our current administration, that we heard during the campaigns. One of the women's groups was talking about the emergency abortion pill for rape victims during my State Senate Campaign.
MG: Plan B?
AM: Yes. I remember the question was, "Are you going to support the intent to make that pill available to"--I think it was at that point--"sixteen-year olds?" I said, "I'm not able to communicate to you exactly what age group or cohort that I would support until I see a total bill. You can't just lift one section and say, 'Yes, I'm going to do this.' I have to see what we could accomplish in the total bill. When a bill is written I'll tell you I'm going to support it, depending on what it looks like in its final version because bills get heavily amended during the Committee process. So, I cannot make you any promise." I said, "What I can do is tell you that I have been a strong supporter of all the needs of women in our community over the past twelve years and I will carry that same commitment into the Senate." The man who was elected got the endorsement by saying, "Oh, I'll do anything you want. You can count on me. I have a wife and two daughters." Actually, he had one daughter and a son. He made promises that having served for twenty-two years in Annapolis, I knew could not be kept. So, my campaigning was reality-based and his was promises, but it is not a matter of sour grapes for me because within a few months after I left the legislature, I was asked whether or not I would be interested in serving on the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission by our Mayor, our County Executive, as a Commissioner, which is a policy position. I had eight great years in WSCC and learned a lot about the water industry and clean water and how clean, affordable water is essential in all of our lives. So, it was just November of '15 that I became fully retired. I do a lot of volunteer activity now, which is extremely rewarding.
MG: And some theater experience?
AM: Yes. [laughter] When I "retired" from the legislature, I visited my doctor's office for a flu shot. I'm not describing something that happened immediately, but it was time for a flu shot. It was winter, October, November. Maryland winters are very similar to New Jersey winters as I recall. Taking off my coat, the receptionist whom I got to know in the internist's office that we've been seeing for many years said, "Oh, you're Mary." I said, "Come on. You know who I am. I'm Adrienne. I have a four o'clock appointment just for a flu shot." "Michael would be so glad to see you. You could play a wonderful--did you ever do anything in theatre?" "Yes, back in college," I said, "But that was many years ago." "I bet you could do it again." So, I went in to see Michael Anchors, and I said, "What is Susan talking about, something about doing some theater with you or for you?" He said, "Oh, I write original plays in my spare time." He said, "Yes, let me see you walk across the room." I did so and he said, "Would you come to an audition?" And I thought to myself, "What the heck? I am not going to let my brain go to mush now that I am not full-time employed as a legislator." Learning a part would be very good. It would be brain stimulation, memorization. Well, little did I realize that when I presented testimony it was me talking and just as I sat here and talked to you today, although I have notes, I didn't talk from my notes. Although I wrote the testimony, I knew what I wanted to say, but these are somebody else's words. However, over the summer, I certainly learned the part. I even took it to Vermont with me and I had the Hillside girls read this original play. It was a great challenge. But unless you're the star, or one of the really heavy supporting actors, you're sitting behind the scenes in a dark room and you have to be very quiet. I felt irritable and bored without doing something, but I was glad that I kept my brain engaged and I still could memorize. The first thing that shocked me was Dr. Anchors saying, "Well, we want you to play the mother of this man who lost his wife." I said, "The mother? I was an ingénue on stage." He said, "Yes, that was thirty-five, forty years ago." But it was nice, it was fun. I enjoyed it. Would I do it again? Probably not, no. I would rather get involved in what I'm doing now with a senior citizen service agency, philanthropy; keeping current on current events, and believe it or not, right here in my own community, there are concerns that can be addressed and possible assistance provided by State and local elected officials and I'm the conduit to these people for our community. We needed some trees replanted in the street right-of-way and I was able to connect people here to the correct County Government staff to address that issue. It was soon accomplished. I do not want any full-time or part-time, even volunteer leadership experiences. I served in public service activities for thirty-seven years. I like the more flexible time with my family, my volunteer work and my home, so I'm ready to turn this over to others to pick up the mantle, and I think people here understand that. I'm more than happy to help make the appropriate connections for people to do the legwork, to get the correct response to in this community.
MG: The last thing I wanted to ask you about was your experience at the Women's March. What were your reasons for marching? What was the feeling of being part of that movement like?
AM: It was totally energizing and invigorating and helped maintain my ongoing commitment to good government. I asked my daughter to go with me, because my grandson and I went to the Obama inauguration together. She said, "Mom, why do you want to do this? They're projecting a real scene." Well, it was more than a scene. We got there very early. We went first to a breakfast that our local congressman provided along with bus transportation. For a twenty dollar contribution (and his campaign helped offset any additional costs) we got downtown. We walked about twelve, fifteen blocks to get near the stages. It was about nine-thirty, ten o'clock, and I guess the opening remarks were supposed to be at ten o'clock. The American Indian Museum was where the Marylanders gathered. We got to one side of the American Indian Museum, not the side where the big screens, the Jumbotrons, were and where the stage was, and we couldn't move for four and a half hours. There was no place to go because the crowds were so overwhelming. They occupied every permitted area on the Mall. There were people there from all over the United States, and there were people there with disabilities, and there were people there with infants in makeshift carry bags, these wrap-around slings, and there were men there and children, and elderly. Everybody had the same issues on their minds--don't erode our rights Human services are important. Keep rights of women, of alternative marriage styles, of veterans. That's what makes us admired in the world. Don't erode our rights! To me, it was a most wonderful experience. Our daughter was a bit reluctant. "Mom, that's a long day for you." But I didn't feel tired. I felt excited and gratified that I was there, that I was able to be there and to see the younger generation in action. The question was often asked to me after that day--and there were about ten or twelve women from this area that I knew who went there, but not with the little group that I was with. I was with a woman whose daughter teachers at one of the small colleges in Massachusetts. She was a Nieman Fellow, Journalism Fellow, at Harvard and her husband is an architect who also got some kind of fellowship at Harvard, and they decided to live there for a while. She has two small children. She left them home with her husband, came with two of her students, and they were dressed, two of them to protest erosion of women's choice, reproductive rights. Some of the costumes were a bit off the edge; but anyway, it was a very special experience. So, the question is, why wasn't this happening before the election? That is very difficult to answer. The mud that was slung at the potential first woman President of the United States (POTUS) was disgraceful; the promises made, the untruths told were abundant. Our turnout--"our" meaning the voter turnout, was abominable, especially when you look at other countries of the world. It's never too late to have the kind of response that we had. I think we're beginning to see that now with the direction that our new President wants to try to take the country. The fact that yes, we've had leadership in our country that was not necessarily politically experienced, but I think there is something that is a moral compass that's missing from this current administration and Donald J. Trump will find out that this is quite different than "making deals." This is people's lives that he's commander-in-chief of and it's a little bit frightening to me. Not a little bit, it's a lot frightening to me.
MG: Well put. Well, is there anything else that we want to put on the record or anything I forgot to ask you about?
AM: If there is, I will look forward to seeing a transcript and I can make a few changes.
MG: Sure, any changes you see fit.
AM: If I see something or if you think of a question that you would like me to try to address I would be glad to do that.
AM: And feel free.
MG: Well, you have been so generous with your time. I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to talk to you.
AM: Thank you, Molly. I appreciate the opportunity and I will tell my three grandchildren that this will be available in the archives. I already have a friend in Florida that I mentioned this to and she immediately wrote back to me and said, she went online with Rutgers--she was a student at Rutgers when I was there at the same time. She said, "I didn't find anything." I said, "Oh no. It's not ready yet." So, at least I know one person will be looking for it.
MG: This will be available for many generations to come, for your grandkids' grandkids someday to hear about you, your life and all of your accomplishments.
AM: Great. I appreciate that.
MG: Well, thank you so much.
AM: Thank you.
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Reviewed by Molly Graham 6/21/2017