NBC: MoCo is America's Most Diverse County


It comes as no surprise to the president of a Democratic organization that has officers who speak 9 languages that Montgomery County is America's most divers place to live. MoCo features three out of four of Maryland's top most diverse places on the list. California gets an honorable mention for diversity as well.

Yet our diversity isn't reflected in whom we've elected to represent us at any level of government. While ten percent of Montgomery County's population are Muslims, not a single Muslim is elected to office from Montgomery County. There are only three Latino lawmakers and thee Black lawmakers in the county's state delegation. The County Council has only one Latina, one African-American, and no Muslims. Only two East Asians and two South Asians have been elected to higher office in a county with one of the highest concentrations of Asians nationwide. The County Executive, Ike  Legget is black, and has been re-elected thrice. 

The lack of diversity has legislative implications. Muslims for years have complained about the lack of halal lending options in Maryland. Yet without a champion in Annapolis to help state lawmakers understand what exactly a halal loan entails, there   has been little movement on the matter. That's even true after this week, when NPR's Planet Money  did an entire segment on Islamic banking

But the trend against diversity is declining. In the last election cycle, two Latinos, David Frasier-Hidalgo and Maricé Morales were elected for the first time. Also elected were Will Smith, who is Black, and David Moon, who is Asian.

While the African Immigrant communities of Eastern Montgomery County still lack an elected voice, many have turned to the Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County for leadership, as nearly 1/3 of all Muslims in the county are African immigrants. That leadership, based on a model of inclusive representation, led to the Montgomery County Democratic Party (MCDCC) following the Muslim Democratic Club's recommendation in selecting a new delegate from eastern Montgomery County earlier this year. Pam Queen was chosen to represent D14 in Annapolis following the creation of a vacancy when the previous delegate Craig Zucker was appointed to the Maryland Senate. The Muslim Democratic Club recommended Pam Queen after she met with a ten person Muslim community panel that included representation from the Ahmadi, Shia, Sunni, African immigrant, Arab, Asian, Latino, Turkish, and South Asian communities (among others). This level of dedication to diversity and inclusion is why the Democratic Party and elected officials trust the Muslim Democratic Club as representative of the greater Muslim community's interests. 

Diversity matters.