Conduit Street had the pleasure of interviewing Dorchester County Council Member George (Lenny) Pfeffer. Learn more about Lenny in the Q&A below.
Conduit: Tell our readers a little bit about your background.
Lenny: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me about who I am and where I came from. My parents lived in Baltimore City when I was born, but soon moved to Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County. I did a lot of the usual suburb things growing up like playing baseball, basketball and joining Cub Scouts. In middle school I was introduced to Civil Air Patrol where I eventually became a cadet officer and cadet squadron leader. I also volunteered at a local fire station where I felt a calling for public safety. After graduating from Old Mill Senior High I briefly went into the automotive repair business before being hired by the Anne Arundel County Fire Department where I had an incredible career for 23 years. After retirement I still felt the urge to help the community so I volunteered at the local school, the American Red Cross and my church. I wanted to stay involved however I could.
Conduit: I know our readers would love to know more about your time as a firefighter, what can you tell us about your time in that role?
Lenny: I was hired by the Anne Arundel Fire Department in 1989, and started the fire training academy that October. I thought I knew a lot from my volunteer days, but I had a lot to learn. In the Academy I got my EMT, learned how to rappel down a building with ropes, rescue people from car accidents, got myself in much better physical shape, and learned more about respect and discipline. After graduating the academy, my first assignment was on a day work ambulance in Glen Burnie. I spent most of my career in the north part of the County being promoted to an Engineman and then Lieutenant. I was injured on the job and forced to retire after 23 years. This left me with rods and pins in my back and many restrictions in my normal life. After all of that, I still feel blessed to have had such a rewarding career and am thankful I can still live an incredible life.
Conduit: What made you decide to get involved in county government?
Lenny: After retirement, I still felt the need to help my community. I wanted to learn more about my local government so I started attending County Council meetings. I learned so much, that I never knew, about the place I live. I had some casual conversations with my friends and family about my desire to become more involved. Many of them had great concern about public safety in Dorchester County and knew of my background. They started to encourage me to run for office, which I did in 2014 and lost. It was hard for someone from “across the bridge” to gain the trust and respect of the citizens. So I spent the next four years working to gain that trust and was eventually elected in 2018.
Conduit: What do you enjoy most about working with your constituents?
Lenny: One of the things I enjoy the most about working with citizens is when they reach out for help and I can actually work with them to overcome a problem and seek solutions to their issues. Many times it is just making a phone call and finding information, but somethings end up being issues that take years. The main thing I have found is that people just want you to truly listen to them as they explain their concerns. Sometimes the answer you give them is not what they want to hear, but they appreciate the time you devote to them.
Conduit: Dorchester County may not be that well known by all of our readers, what should they know about it and are there any specific issues the county faces?
Lenny: Many people only see Dorchester County as they travel on Route 50 through Cambridge toward Ocean City. The north half of the County is primarily farm land and holds 2/3 of the County population. The southern half still has numerous farms, but they are scattered around our rivers and marshlands. Professionals have predicted that within 50 years, over 1/3 of our County will be underwater due to climate change, sea level rise, and erosion. Dorchester County is one of the largest counties by area, but our population is only 32,000 citizens. This gives us a very large spread out area to take care of with a very small tax base.
Conduit: What have you gained from your time at MACo and what do you look forward to doing?
Lenny: While MACo has taught me so much, I feel there are two main things that MACo has done for me. The first thing is the help they give elected officials and their staff to understand pending legislation, as well as how we need to prepare for bills that become law. MACo staff spends countless hours reading through these bills and laws finding the details and explaining the ramifications to county level government. The other thing I have gained is a broad range of friends and colleagues. I have broadened my network which allows me to pick up the phone and speak to elected officials from around the state and learn from their experiences on issues my county may be facing. I look forward to expanding my list of friends and colleagues with my work on the Board of Directors and my attendance at MACo conferences and meetings.
Conduit: What are your hobbies or any fun facts about yourself?
Lenny: I am actually a pretty boring person. [insert muffled laughter] I like to fish, crab, and boat on the many rivers in and around Dorchester County. I occasionally can be found in a goose blind, or on the edge of a field hunting for deer. My favorite movies and tv shows are comedies, unless I am on YouTube trying to learn a new skill or understand something I am not sure about. Most of the time you will find me next to my best friend and wife of 32 years, Sherry [insert collective awwww]. While we never had kids, we have always had furry children. Bailey is our 13-year-old, male standard poodle. We love standard poodles because they are so smart, and they don’t shed!
Conduit: Anything else you would like our readers to know?
Lenny: When I got elected four years ago, I knew I had a lot to learn. Much of what I needed to learn would come from time interacting with citizens and our County staff. I am still learning all the time. My time with MACo has helped me to be a better representative to the citizens in my County. It has allowed me to bring back information so we can prepare for what is ahead of us. It has given me access to leaders from around the state. It has connected me to State Cabinet Secretaries, State Delegates and Senators, and even our Federal Elected Officials. The information and networking that MACo opens up is priceless. I strongly encourage all elected officials and their staff to become more involved in the Maryland Association of Counties. It will help you to be a better representative to your citizens.
Conduit: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us and let our readers learn more about you and Dorchester County!