Monday, October 05, 2009

What Do MoCo Residents Want?

Greater Washington 2050, a project of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, has surveyed residents of the D.C. region about their priorities. In presentations on their website and before the County Council, they contrasted Montgomery County residents with their neighbors in the rest of the area. This makes for interesting reading for anyone considering a run for office.

Rating the Region

Thirty-six percent of MoCo residents rated the region as an “excellent” place to live, five points higher than the regional average. Eleven percent of MoCo residents rated the region as “poor,” six points below the regional average.

MoCo was in the middle of the pack on this measure, far behind Arlington and Alexandria but far ahead of Prince William, Prince George’s and Frederick.

Regional Problem Solving

MoCo residents are split down the middle on whether problems are best solved on the regional or local level, just like residents from the rest of the area.

Most Important Long-Term Issues

For MoCo residents, the three most important long-term issues are transportation/traffic (58%), the economy and jobs (33%) and education/schools (15%). The Lords of Annapolis should remember that the next time they cut transportation! MoCo puts slightly more emphasis on transportation and the economy and less on schools than the rest of the region.

Report Card for the Region

MoCo residents generally give higher marks on regional performance than do residents from other jurisdictions. They give performance on respect for people of all backgrounds, interesting arts and cultural opportunities, recreational opportunities and parks a grade of “B.” They give performance on walkable neighborhoods, availability of good jobs and affordable housing close to a grade of “C.” The score order of MoCo residents is not that different from the rest of the region.

Intensity of Public Priorities

In terms of their intensity of priority, the top four issues for MoCo residents right now are high quality public schools, better access to health care, low crime and more good jobs. Their lowest priorities are more parks, more recreational opportunities and more arts and cultural opportunities. Interestingly, these low priorities are also the highest rated on performance. The rest of the region pretty much agrees with MoCo.


Forty-six percent of region residents describe taxes as “fair.” Only forty percent of MoCo residents rate taxes as “fair,” the lowest percentage in the region. That may explain last year’s tax revolt.

So MoCo residents want expensive things like transportation and schools and they are increasingly resistant to raising tax rates to pay for them. But they also want a stronger economy and more jobs, which together can boost the tax base to help fulfill their priorities. That’s a big dose of common sense if we have ever seen it.

MoCo residents get it. Do the politicians?