Ray Beck: Census important to community

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Ten questions — 10 minutes.

It’s safe, it’s easy and it’s the law, mandated by the U.S. Constitution that everyone residing in the United States be counted every 10 years.

All Census Bureau employees have taken an oath to protect confidentiality and are subject to a jail term, fine, or both for disclosing any information that could identify a respondent or household.

Next, it is easy.

The form asks for your name sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, relationship and housing tenure.

The form has been simplified; it is one of the shortest since the first enumeration in 1790.

There will not be a long-form supplement survey to fill out. Spending just a few minutes to fill out your census form will help ensure your community gets its fair share of federal and state funding for the next 10 years.

Why is this important?

Because it affects your voice in Congress, your representation in state and local government, and informs your community’s decision-makers.

A survey from the 2000 census showed good news for Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas by gaining two seats in the House of Representatives.

However, Illinois, Ohio and New York lost seats.

The experts predict that the Northwest will lose four congressional seats and the Midwest will shed six, with five seats apiece heading to the South and the West.

The Census data directly affects how more than $400 billion per year is allocated to our communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation and much more.

By taking just a few minutes to fill out the census form, you can help your community attract new business to state and local areas, creating maps to speed emergency services to households in need of assistance, distributing medical research and planning urban land use.

By taking time to fill out the census form, you can aid in reappointing seats in the House of Representatives, provide evidence in litigation involving land use, voting rights and equal opportunity.

Last, but surely not least, the census data is used to plan for school projects, help develop adult education programs and determine areas eligible for housing assistance and rehabilitation loans.

These reasons were enough for three elected officials in Craig and Moffat County to form a Census Committee, or a Complete Count Committee.

We had our first meeting June 15, 2009, with our area representative Brian Meinhart from Grand Junction.

That was the start of a joint effort between the city of Craig and Moffat County to work together making sure all our citizens are counted in 2010.

We then created a resolution between the Moffat County Commission and the Craig City Council that we would collectively cooperate with each other and a variety of community leaders to form the Craig-Moffat Complete Count Committee.

We have established four hard-to-count communities, which are rural area, youths ages 18 to 30, young adults and the Hispanic community.

We applied for a grant through the Census Bureau for postage and post cards with a simple message, and two census banners will be displayed throughout the community from now through April 1.

On Nov. 19, 2009, one of our subcommittees organized a Thanksgiving dinner for Integrated Community.

The event drew more than 120 people with music, a cholesterol screening station, advocates handing out information, a coat giveaway and an opportunity to help ensure that your community gets its fair share of federal dollars for years to come.

Community leaders can help get the public to move from knowing about the census and its importance to completing the questionnaire and mailing it back.

Community members can help reach the hard-to-count population and maintain the existing base of cooperation from most people.

Community members are the local community link to Census 2010, enabling every resident the opportunity to receive firsthand information from someone they know and trust.

The census provides a snapshot of the nation, which helps give meaning and definition to who we are. Help get Colorado the funding it deserves by being a partner with the 2010 Census.

Remember, it’s in our hands.

Ray Beck is co-chairman of the Craig-Moffat Complete Count Committee.

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