Andrew: COVID and Trump are bookends

Anton Andrew talks like a man on a mission. He's running for state representative against Republican Craig Williams for the 160th Legislative District, a spot being vacated by incumbent Republican Stephen Barrar, who is retiring at the end of this legislative term. It's Andrew's second time going for the 160th seat. He lost to Barrar in 2018.

The Democratic Party nominee, who spent his first 10 years in Jamaica and Trinidad, said he wants to be a state representative because "I always wanted to give people a shot at the American dream. I know that sounds corny, but that is what brought my entire family here, the belief that if you work hard and if you're decent to people, you have a shot to support yourself and your family."

Anton Andrew

Andrew — who earned his law degree from Hofstra University — said his entire career, from public defender to educator, has been with that dream in mind and that he is paying back for the opportunity given to him by his parents, teachers, and "the people who looked past my skin color, my country of national origin, and gave me a chance. I feel pretty damn lucky and I want to make sure that this and future generations have the same opportunity. I believe that is America's most powerful export."

He said his experience as someone who can come up with solutions to problems while working with various people is his strength. He pointed to establishing the Disadvantaged Business Enterprises Supportive Services Center to help women and minority-owned small businesses compete for large construction and transportation contracts as one example. Another is helping to set up a revolving water fund with the Nature Conservancy in Delaware.

"We pay upstream polluters not to pollute by getting money from the downstream users who would be spending a ton of money to mitigate the pollution," he said.

Those downstream users invest in the fund, and then the potential polluters — mostly farmers, he said — are approached with an offer: "If you engage in these best practices, we can support you with whatever you need to do to engage in those best practices. And that saves money downstream."

The environment is one of his concerns. Andrew was a founding trustee of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County.

His interest in the environment is coupled with COVID-19. He said COVID came about because "We removed a buffer between wild places and inhabited places."

He said the loss of that buffer is what made it possible for the bat Coronavirus to transfer to humans. Protecting those buffers through sound environmental practices would prevent further occurrences.

Other issues


He said state legislative districts still haven't been redrawn and points the finger at Republicans for that. He added that if elected officials felt more responsible to the voters in their district, "they would listen to the scientists or at least appear to be reasonable instead of being rabid Trumpites."

"I think part of the reason for all the craziness in Harrisburg is because [party] leaders feel like they're in secure enough districts…to be running around threatening the governor because he wasn't re-opening the state for their favorite summer holiday. I think that kind of craziness only happens when you're absolutely certain you're not going to lose that seat."

COVID and Donald Trump

"COVID-19 and Donald Trump are the bookends of my campaign. The way he is, it's like a cancer, and it's just spread down, down, down into our state House."

He contended that some of that craziness included Republican in the state legislature with COVID not wearing masks, he alleged. However, he could not think of a specific legislator who did that. [Note: A quick web search did not confirm the allegation.]

Qualified Immunity

Qualified immunity for police officers – granting them immunity for wrongful actions if they didn't know the actions were wrong — must go, he said. It damages community trust

"I've been very clear with law enforcement officers. I think they have a special relationship with the public that requires the public to know that [police] are not receiving any additional protections that the rest of us aren't," Andrew said. "When young people trust police officers, they share information," so police can make real interventions before there's violence.

He said he supports police collective-bargaining regarding wages and benefits, but not with the ability to bargain away wrong-doing and the ability to be disciplined when an internal affairs unit finds evidence of that wrong-doing.

"We need to make sure that there isn't even a perception that they are protected more than they should be."

Drug War and Mandatory Minimums

One issue that has been on a back burner is the drug war in general and, specifically, cannabis legalization.

Andrew said he came to see early in his law career how the drug war manifested racism to the black community. As a public defender, my first job was dealing with the unintended casualties of the drug war. I was creating alternatives to incarceration for juveniles who were absolutely getting devoured."

He said addiction needs to be treated medically, not criminally, and that there needs to be something other than jail for those non-violent sellers who are just trying to feed their families.

And he added that mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenses "doesn't make sense…It strips flexibility away from the judges and other mitigations that make justice just."

Andrew said two years ago that the 160th is "flippable." He's sticking to that thought for this year's election.


About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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