Po­ten­tial can­di­date tours Shore

Prince Ge­orge’s County Ex­ec­u­tive Baker eyes gu­ber­na­to­rial run in 2018

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com Fol­low Caro­line/Dorch­ester Ed­i­tor Dustin Holt on Twit­ter @ Dustin_S­tarDem.

— Pos­si­ble Mary­land gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Rush­ern L. Baker III, a Demo­crat, made sev­eral vis­its on the Eastern Shore Fri­day, March 17, test­ing the wa­ters for a po­ten­tial bid in 2018.

Baker, the county ex­ec­u­tive for Prince Ge­orge’s County since 2010, made sev­eral stops dur­ing his trip, in­clud­ing vis­its to the YMCA of the Ch­e­sa­peake in Eas­ton, Sal­is­bury Univer­sity and Dorch­ester County.

— Pos­si­ble Mary­land gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Rush­ern L. Baker III, a Demo­crat, made sev­eral vis­its on the Eastern Shore Fri­day, March 17, test­ing the wa­ters for a po­ten­tial bid in 2018.

Baker, the county ex­ec­u­tive for Prince Ge­orge’s County since 2010, made sev­eral stops dur­ing his trip, in­clud­ing vis­its to the YMCA of the Ch­e­sa­peake in Eas­ton, Sal­is­bury Univer­sity and Dorch­ester County.

Dur­ing his visit to Dorch­ester County, Baker met with Cam­bridge Mayor Vic­to­ria Jack­son Stan­ley and Dorch­ester County Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ricky Travers in Cam­bridge.

He said he wanted to visit the Eastern Shore to talk with dif­fer­ent groups and of­fi­cials.

“I wanted to do that, cer­tainly, as I con­tem­plate what I’m go­ing to do next,” he said. “I want to make sure I un­der­stand the is­sues and con­cerns that are around the state.

“I also want to see the sim­i­lar­i­ties. If you look at Prince Ge­orge’s County, we are not just ur­ban. We are ur­ban, subur­ban and ru­ral. We want to un­der­stand the needs for bridges and road­ways, and how im­por­tant that is in terms of in­fras­truc­ture.

“Our pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem here, and the chal­lenges that are faced here, along with our health care are sim­i­lar chal­lenges in all parts of the state. Some of the very same things that are go­ing on here, whether it is heroin ad­dic­tion and opi­oids, are hap­pen­ing in Prince Ge­orge’s County. I wanted to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of those is­sues.”

Baker said the col­leges on the Eastern Shore are vi­tal to the state with job train­ing and eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

“It has been re­ally amazing what I’ve seen so far with how Sal­is­bury Univer­sity has ex­panded,” he said. “You have Sal­is­bur y Univer­sity. You have Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege, which has been ex­pand­ing, of­fer­ing more pro­grams. You have Univer­sity of Mary­land Eastern Shore.

“We have the same things in Prince Ge­orge’s County with the Univer­sity of Mar yland, Bowie State and Prince Ge­orge’s Community Col­lege. We want to use those higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions to help us with kin­der­garten through 12 and with look­ing at eco­nomic devel­op­ment. This has been a good ed­u­ca­tion for me.”

Baker met with Travers for about 30 min­utes at Travers’ fam­ily-owned Sim­mons Cen­ter Mar­ket in down­town Cam­bridge.

“It is great to know that some of the higher-rank­ing of­fi­cials in other parts of the state are con­cerned about the Eastern Shore,” Travers said.

Ac­cord­ing to Prince Ge­orge’s County records, 12,000 new jobs and more than $8 bil­lion in eco­nomic devel­op­ment ac­tiv­ity have been gained dur­ing Baker’s ten­ure — the most ever in a six-year pe­riod in county his­tor y. In his ten­ure, the county’s crime rate has dropped by 55 per­cent and is at its low­est level in 30 years.

Prop­erty val­ues have in­creased by 61 per­cent for the county. Prince Ge­orge’s County Pub­lic Schools have seen a 10 per­cent­age point in­crease in the grad­u­a­tion rate.

Baker also dis­cussed the FBI Head­quar­ters project, which would make Prince Ge­orge’s County the home to the new con­sol­i­dated FBI Head­quar­ters — a $2.5 bil­lion fed­eral project. The county is a lead­ing con­tender for the project, along with Vir­ginia.

“Get­ting the FBI project would be a big win for the en­tire state of Mary­land,” Baker said. “It would bring in jobs. Those jobs would add to our tax base. We could bring in people who move to the state, and that adds to our tax base.

“It also adds other ben­e­fits in the sense that it will con­tract with a lot of folks. We think for the Eastern Shore and through­out Mary­land, the fa­cil­ity will con­nect with com­pa­nies do­ing work that can ben­e­fit hav­ing the FBI Head­quar­ters in the state.

“Given the na­ture of the in­ter­net, you don’t have to be phys­i­cally lo­cated next to the FBI so it gives us a chance for stu­dents com­ing out of Sal­is­bur y Univer­sity to work around cy­ber se­cu­rity and work with the FBI. To have that in the state will ben­e­fit us all.”

Baker also vis­ited the newly opened Harriet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Vis­i­tor Cen­ter near Church Creek.

“The Harriet Tub­man Vis­i­tor Cen­ter is ab­so­lutely amazing,” he said. “I’m a huge Harriet Tub­man fan. My youngest daugh­ter is an artist, and I had her paint me a Harriet Tub­man pic­ture so it hangs in my of­fice.

“Es­pe­cially now, I think the vis­i­tor cen­ter is such a shin­ing ex­am­ple of Mary­land, and the courage that Mar ylan­ders have had for gen­er­a­tions,” he said. “She is one of the best. It is go­ing to get more and more people out to Cam­bridge, Dorch­ester County and the Eastern Shore. We are ex­cited to be in Cam­bridge and Dorch­ester County, and I look for­ward to com­ing back.”

PHOTOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

Prince Ge­orge’s County Ex­ec­u­tive Rush­ern L. Baker III, right, meets with Dorch­ester County Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ricky Travers at Sim­mons Cen­ter Mar­ket in Cam­bridge Fri­day, March 17.

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