Wherever the Prince George’s county executive goes, an oft-repeated slogan is sure to be echoed nearby. Whether Rushern L. Baker’s III is at the groundbreaking for a new development, talking to constituents one on one, or speaking to a room full of business owners, he will be the first to declare “Prince George’s is the place to be.”
That’s because Baker (D) has spent his nearly-complete first term giving the county and its a government a facelift to help erase perceptions of a jurisdiction long overshadowed by its wealthier, more populous and attractive neighbors in the region.
But those perceptions are changing, Baker said in his State of the County speech to county business owners early Wednesday.
“Brick by brick, we have been building a strong foundation for this county,” Baker said. “It was almost four years ago when I promised to represent Prince George’s, and I have delivered.”
Baker, who is running for a second term and is unopposed in the Democratic Party primary, touted the county’s progress citing dramatic reductions in crime, increased economic development and the appointment of a new schools chief, Kevin Maxwell.
Quality schools bring more residents and business opportunities, Baker said.
For the first time in a decade, enrollment at Prince George’s schools increased, but the majority of those students do not come from the middle class.
Challenges still lie ahead for the county of about 880,000 residents.
The foreclosure crisis that pummeled Prince George’s continues to hold a tight grip on the housing market, and the numbers remain high. The recession also resulted in thousands of job losses that left the county’s middle class vulnerable and triggered steep increases in poverty, according to a report by the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute.
Quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Baker said the test of progress for Prince George’s will ultimately be measured by the citizenry.
“I’m often asked what I mean by feelings,” he said. “I want people to feel their quality of life is better without us having to say it.”