Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Gentrification Story

This post by Racialicious on the complexities of gentrification is excellent in its own right, and particularly so for me since it focuses on my home land of Montgomery County, Maryland. Though not immune to gentrification by any means, MC has attempted to maintain some level of economic integration by aggressively demanding mixed-income housing from any new developers -- a requirement they can swing because of the red-hot real estate market in the area. The results haven't exactly stymied the exiling of working and lower-middle class people to far-flung exurbs, but it has slowed the tide to a much greater extent than one would expect for a region with our socio-economic profile.

Another interesting factoid (to me, anyway). Here is the racial breakdown of Montgomery County, according to the most recent census:
64.78% White
15.14% African American
0.29% Native American
11.3% Asian
0.05% Pacific Islander
5.0% from other races
3.45% from two or more races.
In addition, 11.52% of the population was Hispanic or Latino, of any race

Relatively speaking, that isn't horribly segregated, but still no race other than White breaks 16% of the population.

But Montgomery County currently has a Black County Executive (the top elected position in the local government), Ike Leggett. He won in a 2006 landslide (after winning a tightly contested primary). But I'm curious how many governmental entities the size of Montgomery County (or higher) are represented by a Black public official when the size of their African-American population is around 15% (or less). My casual observation is that it is quite rare for Black public officials to be elected out of regions that are less than, say, 35-40% Black -- i.e., places where Blacks are a significant voting bloc. Montgomery County may be an interesting exception to this rule -- and one that I, for one, am proud of.


PG said...

Based on at least my superficial observations, Maryland seems pretty good at getting a deep Democratic bench and one that includes many talented African American politicans and administrators. Perhaps the MD side of the DC suburbs attracts a lot of educated African Americans who are interested in politics but may not be willing to tackle the black hole of Washington.

David Schraub said...

Presumably an ambitious African-American politician would look at PG county before MC if they want to break into the game -- there are just more options there. You are right about the deep bench though, although its almost too much of a good thing. We don't have enough promotions available for all the talent we've got. It's especially bad because it ends up hurting Black Democrats, who are long overdue for one of the big ticket positions (Governor or Senator). The next Senate seat is theoretically Rep. Chris Van Hollen's, but I can't imagine he won't have a primary fight.

The ideal way to resolve the problem, from my point of view, is to move Gov. O'Malley to a cabinet position in a new Democratic administration, and then let Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown take over his slot. Van Hollen becomes the next Senator, and Leggett takes his Congressional seat. But that's a lot of pieces falling into place for my tastes.