An Interview with Free-Range Mom Danielle Meitiv
Next June, scientist and free-range mom Danielle Meitiv will be on the Democratic primary ballot for Montgomery County Council at-large. Recently, Natural Awakenings Outreach Director, Sam Hudgins, had the opportunity to chat with Meitiv on why she chose to run for local office and what she’d like to accomplish.
What made you decided to run?
I have always been interested in government and in making change, but I’ve never really acted at the local level until I had a big wake-up call about how important it is to understand how your local government works, and sometimes doesn’t work.
That wake-up call happened when my husband and I were charged with child neglect because we let our children go to the playground without an adult. We spoke up and people across the county whom we’d never met spoke up with us—and we changed the policy. That situation really woke me up to the potential for making change that really impacts and improves people’s lives.
What is your background and how will it help you to serve your community?
I have a degree in biology and in school I studied oceanography and environmental policy but I knew from the beginning I wanted to go into policy. As a scientist, I have specific expertise but beyond that, being trained as a scientist provides me with a rational, data-driven approach to problems. I’m not going to go for the easy answer; I am going to go for what’s right and what’s really needed. That would be my technical background. Personally, I’m a homeowner, I’m a parent of children in our schools and I’ve been involved in the community. I think those things are important for a local office.
Does your background in science mean your focus will lie in environmental policy?
Actually, my platform is quite broad. My big emphasis will be on education. I think we need to expand public school to encompass more of a child’s life and actually prepare graduates for jobs, as well as close the achievement gap. I also want to focus on improving public transit, which is better for people’s health, the economy and the environment.
Throughout the country, there is such a great divide among the nation politically. What made you decide to take this step to get involved in the political realm?
I think it’s really, really important for woman to step up—just unbelievably critical. Maryland has gone backward! We have no women in our congressional delegation, we have no woman whatsoever on Capitol Hill and it’s supposed to be one of the most progressive places in the country. Studies show women win as often as men, they just don’t run as often. I kept looking around saying, “Where are the woman candidates?” and my friend said, “I’m looking at one of them.”
Also Montgomery County is a really diverse county and I think this is such a wonderful opportunity to create the healing and togetherness that truly makes America great. What really makes us great is how much we embrace diversity and we can do that right here in Montgomery County and prove to the rest of the world how well it’s done and it can be done.
If you could accomplish one great thing for Montgomery County, what would it be?
Bigger than all my specific policy goals if I could accomplish one thing it would be that the people of Montgomery County feel like their local government is listening to them, really cares about their needs and is responsive and accountable. If people feel that way and we can transform our whole government that way that is how we are going to accomplish our other policy goals—by the county coming together and believing that it’s government can make a difference in improving their lives.