By DANA MUNRO CAPITAL GAZETTE | JAN 14, 2022 AT 5:00 AM
As his second and last term on the Anne Arundel County Council comes to a close, Democrat Andrew Pruski is setting his sights on statewide office. After weighing his options with his family and other advisers, Pruski filed Dec. 30 to run for the District 33 seat in the House of Delegates.
“On the council I think we’ve actually had a lot of accomplishments move forward in terms of schools’ additions and things that have been benefit for the area, but I think there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Pruski said.
The Gambrills resident said, if elected, the issues he hopes to work on include improving education and public safety and taking better care of local veterans.
Pruski, a former social studies teacher and U.S. Department of Education staff member, said he is particularly concerned about hiring and retaining quality teachers.
“Those are two things at the state level that need a statewide response,” he said. “Obviously having a quality teacher in the classroom makes a huge difference and, particularly with the loss of instruction the students have had [because of the coronavirus pandemic], we need teachers to be retained to make sure we have quality teachers and make sure there’s consistency.”
He said he supports the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the sweeping education reform bill that passed last year, but also thinks teachers need to be paid more apart from the raises outlined in the plan.
“When you look at schools of education, less people are going into the profession and that’s concerning. And I think we have to address that at the statewide level,” Pruski said. “And it’s not just money. You have to have resources, support and be providing for those teachers so they can provide for our students.”
Pruski voiced similar concerns about public safety professionals, saying the state needs to find ways to incentivize them to work in Maryland and stay here.
“I am kind of worried right now, to be candid, about the retention of our first responders and also getting people hired for those jobs,” he said. “I don’t have a particular solution right now, but what I’m hearing on the ground when I talk to people about COVID is just overall stress in the profession. It’s hard to get them interested in wanting to head in that career path.”
He said one option he’s interested in is using federal safety grants, which can be spent on things like salaries and training for public safety professionals.
“I think what we have to figure out is what the needs are at the time,” Pruski said. “We need to be strategic and look at ways we can help coordinate on all levels [of government] to make sure we’re filling those positions and getting quality people.”
In terms of helping veterans, Pruski said housing, health care and job training could be key to improving their quality of life and imagines the abandoned Crownsville Hospital Center as a place that could provide that support.
“There are health care needs, sometimes there are housing needs where you have homeless veterans,” Pruski said. “I think Crownsville should be really looked at as far as opportunities to support veterans and maybe making that a facility.”
Pruski said he thinks, even as a new candidate for this position, his long history of public service and bipartisan appeal will persuade voters in his favor.
“I’ve been serving ever since my time in the Boy Scouts, ever since I was a youth, and I consider public service an honor,” he said. “I think my record speaks for itself. I’ve done a lot of good things with the help of others. You can’t do it on your own; it is a team effort.”
Maryland will hold its primary election on June 28, and the general election will follow on Nov. 8.
District 33 includes a wide swath of the county, stretching from Cape St. Claire in the east to Severn in the north and Crofton in the west at the Prince George’s County border, and into Davidsonville and south county. However, if the proposed map from the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission passes, it will be split into three sections: 33A, B and C. District 33A would include Odenton, 33B would include Crofton and 33C would go from Severna Park out to the Chesapeake Bay.
The district is currently represented by Dels. Sid Saab, Heather Bagnall and Rachel Muñoz. Saab, a Republican, has announced he plans to run for reelection but has yet to officially file. Bagnall has filed to run again as a Democrat. Muñoz, who was appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan in November to fill by the remaining term of former Del. Michael Malone who resigned in August to become a state circuit court judge, has filed to run as a Republican. Kevin Burke is the only other Democrat running, while Tom Angelis, Tyler Bailey, David Bishop, Stuart Michael Schmidt Jr. and John T. Sly have all filed as Republicans.