For immediate release
Contact: Nina Voehl, Public Information Officer
Charles County Government
Survey Shows Residents Optimistic About County's Future
The Charles County Commissioners are pleased to announce that the results of a recent perceptions survey, conducted by Potomac Incorporated of Bethesda, Maryland, in early May 2001, indicate that citizens are optimistic about the future of the County.
The consultant randomly interviewed 400 County registered voters by telephone regarding their impressions of life in the County. The results were "very positive," especially among new residents, who were more likely to have an optimistic view of the County. "By better than two to one, (59% vs. 28%) respondents to the survey believe Charles County is moving in a positive direction,” said Steve Raabe, Potomac Incorporated Executive Vice President and Director of Survey Research.
"Citizens are basically optimistic about the future of their county and have a clear sense of the county's major assets, as well as its most critical challenges," Raabe said, as he presented the survey results last month to the members of VITAL (Vision In Teamwork And Leadership).
VITAL was created by the County Commissioners a decade ago to provide a forum for County leaders in the public and private sector to coordinate their activities more effectively to address the needs of the community. A VITAL sub-committee, led by Joanne Roland, Charles County's Director of Tourism, designed the survey program the consultant was commissioned to conduct and analyze.
The most valued quality from a resident's point of view is the County's rural, peaceful atmosphere. Those who have lived here five years or less were more apt to appreciate this characteristic and have a more optimistic view of the County than those who have lived here longer.
Forty percent of those surveyed have moved to the County within the past 15 years, saying moving for a job was the leading factor, followed by affordable housing/cost of living.
When asked about 13 County characteristics, respondents said "a strong sense of history" was the County's most admired asset. This view as being "better than other places" came across more often in those who have lived in the County more than 20 years. Second most valued on the list was "a safe place to raise a family," a more pronounced asset for those who have been in the County five years or less.
The survey also pointed out areas for improvement. By far, residents see the County's quiet way of life changing, with two thirds of the respondents saying traffic congestion as the most important challenge, and pinpointing growth and development as a concern. While traffic congestion is the largest concern, finding a job in the County is second. This view was held largely by those who commute to work outside the county. In addition, a majority of those who do currently work in the County say it would be easier to find a job elsewhere.
Overall, Raabe said, the survey showed that "Charles County citizens see their community as a unique place with a rich history, offering open space and a peaceful way of life. They value the County as a good place to raise children and prize their relationships with their neighbors."
"The survey reinforced what we knew were our County's assets, its people, its history, and it rural atmosphere, as well as the problems associated with any growing County. It will help us develop marketing tools and address issues that will help foster economic development and further enhance the quality of life for our County citizens," said the County Commissioners.
October 3, 2001