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Rushern Baker To Focus On Education And Jobs In Prince George's | News

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Rushern Baker To Focus On Education And Jobs In Prince George's

(WUSA) -- Prince George's County's presumptive next county executive has his top two priorities in order: education and job creation.

Democrat Rushern Baker visited 9NEWS NOW Wednesday morning. He is not facing a Republican challenger in the November 2 election, and is expected to succeed Jack Johnson as county executive.

Baker said during the recent primary campaign, the top question he got was about improving schools and education in Prince George's County. "It's the reason I ran for county executive," he told 9NEWS NOW's Andrea Roane. Baker said he wants to "make sure we focus on quality teachers in every classroom. That's what we need to have in Prince George's County. That would improve the quality of education throughout the county."

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The big question is how to do that, especially with budget crunches on every level in every district in Maryland and the entire Washington region. Baker is hoping for federal money from the "Race to the Top" program. However, he is willing to help education with his budget as county executive. "I want to make sure [schools are] focusing on classroom instruction, making sure there's quality throughout our school system. I'm going to help them out any way I can to make sure that happens."

Baker has one child in the Prince George's County public school system, and notes that all three of his children have attended public schools there.

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His second priority after taking office will be creating jobs. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics puts unemployment among Prince George's County residents at 7.6% (for August 2010, not seasonally adjusted). That is up 0.5% from one year before, even with the statewide average, but still lower than the national average of 9.5% for the same time.

Baker said he sees opportunity in Green, Blue, and Orange: the color of the Metro lines in Prince George's County. He wants to use Metro stations as an engine for economic growth. "If you look at New Carrollton, Branch Avenue, Suitland... there are plenty of opportunities" for growth, Baker said. "I want to make sure we grow that tax base by developing around those Metro stations."

Being in the nation's capital, which has not been hit as hard by the economic downturn, is a plus for the county. Baker said the Washington area is growing, and he sees Prince George's as "having the opportunity to see the expansion of this region in the county." By growing the economy, Baker said he hopes to increase the tax base and put that money into education and health care.

Written by Dan Guzman

9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com