- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Baltimore's loss in residents could be Montgomery County's gain in the Maryland legislature now that the Washington suburb's population has surpassed that of the city, new census figures show.

Montgomery County's population grew 15.4 percent during the last decade, from 757,027 in 1990 to 873,341 last year. It could pick up at least one more legislative district, meaning the county would gain three new delegates and one new senator in the legislature.

As a result, the county would see its number of senators grow from seven to eight and its number of delegates rise from 22 to 25.

"This is very good news for Montgomery County," state Delegate Jean Cryor, Potomac Republican, said yesterday. "The number of voices will grow on the House and Senate floors, and our clout will continue to grow."

Prince George's County's representation, however, will remain as it is. According to 2000 census figures, the county's population grew 9.9 percent in the last decade, from 729,268 in 1990 to 801,515 last year.

Baltimore, which saw an 11 percent decrease in its population since 1990, could lose at least one, if not two, state senators and as many as six delegates.

The population of Maryland's largest city last year was 651,154, down from 736,014 in 1990.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County grew by 9 percent from 692,134 in 1990 to 754,292 last year and surpassed the city's population.

The new census figures show a shift in population and consequently, political power from Baltimore to the suburbs, including Calvert, Frederick and Howard counties, which saw the largest gains in population.

Calvert County's population grew 45 percent, from 51,372 in 1990 to 74,563 last year. Frederick County's population increased by 30 percent, from 150,208 in 1990 to 195,277 last year. Howard's population grew almost 33 percent, from 187,328 in 1990 to 247,842 last year.

"Political power in Maryland is in transition," said Blair Lee, a political commentator in Montgomery County. "But it's not yet clear where it's landed. It's clearly left Baltimore city. The numbers show us that."

More representation in the state House and Senate would mean Montgomery County lawmakers will be able "to advance the agenda of the Washington metropolitan area," said Delegate Kumar Barve, a Democrat who heads Montgomery County's House delegation.

The agenda would likely include requests for more money for local school construction and public transportation. Local state lawmakers even suggested looking at ways to connect Montgomery County with Northern Virginia.

"Priorities will definitely be a little more different," said state Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, Montgomery County Democrat. "The Washington-area suburbs will have more say. There's no doubt about that."

Mr. Hogan said that legislation approved years ago such as public funding for PSINet Stadium in Baltimore would not have passed with additional representation from the Washington suburbs.

"It only passed by two votes in the Senate and those votes came from two Baltimore state senators," Mr. Hogan said of the stadium-funding vote. "It would have died now."

But Baltimore could make up for its losses by having some of its districts stretch out to take in more Baltimore County voters, some lawmakers said yesterday.

"That's still an option," said Delegate Pauline Menes, Prince George's Democrat. "The city still has a lot of clout. There's no reason why a city representative can't go beyond city limits just to hang on to what they have left."

"There's really no other choice," Mrs. Menes added. "There's no way you can stop an area that's growing and from it getting the proper representation it deserves."


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