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December 14, 2011

Charles County moves closer to D.C. orbit

Charles County, long thought of as a rural, tobacco-growing jurisdiction in Southern Maryland, is taking one more step toward becoming a full-fledged part of the Washington region.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a regional planning body, announced Wednesday that Charles will become its 22nd member government. The group, which includes the District of Columbia as well as counties and municipalities in Maryland and Virginia, includes groups that deal with transportation and air quality issues that transcend jurisdictional lines.

Charles' move closer into the Washington region tracks its political transformation over the last two decades. With an increasing African-American population that includes many who have migrated from Prince George's County, Charles has moved from being a reliably Republican outpost to a Democratic stronghold. Over the years, as tobacco farming has dwindled, the county has become much more of a bedroom community for commuters to Washington.

Candice Quinn Kelly, president of the Charles County Board of Commissioners, issued a statement that didn't seem at all nostalgic for the county's past.

“Charles County is pleased to become a full member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Our decision to move forward with COG membership is based on the understanding that commuting, employment, and the economic direction of Charles County are fully part of the larger Washington-area region. We're not solely a rural, agricultural-based county anymore,” she said. “This is an important day for our community. It's time to move into this new realm, and we are joining a strong, regional network that will help us to move our county forward.”

Can St. Mary's and Calvert be far behind?

Posted by Michael Dresser at 10:11 AM | | Comments (0)

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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