By Ralph Echtinaw
City council approved the formation of a “complete count committee” Tuesday that will get the word out to residents on the importance of cooperating with federal census takers next year.
City Manager Kurt Giles plans to reach out to business leaders, school officials, city council members, planning commission members, parks and recreation committee members, clergymen and others to populate the committee.
If you would like to be on the committee, contact city Clerk Mari Anne Ryder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These will be unpaid positions and involve a “handful of meetings,” Giles said.
What will committee members do?
“For the most part, I believe it will be disseminating the message about the importance and benefits of responding to the census, how simple and secure the process is and marketing the short-term or part-time employment opportunities,” Giles said via email. “I expect it will involve various types of networking.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Melissa Allen met with a census official recently as the complete count committee was suggested.
“The information is getting harder for them to get because people are getting more private or concerned with fraudulent information and hacking,” she said. “They don’t share that information of your personal household with anybody, only the statistics as a whole.”
Allen told a story about pitching the census to a group of friends and their husbands recently. “I mentioned the census is coming up in the spring, and when they get their letter to make sure they fill it out,” she said. “And one of the husbands (said), ‘Nope. Never did. Not gonna know.’
“I tried to talk to him about his concerns, and I was not able to get past his block wall. He was like, ‘Is that information stored on a computer?’ Probably. ‘Then no. I’m not filling it out.’
“The census is very simple (with just ten questions),” Allen said. And if you don’t fill out the form “you’re going to have a door knocker come to visit you over and over and over until you do.”
The complete count committee will also set up a census jobs event to recruit the door knockers that Allen referenced. Giles said the library is a good place for that because computer terminals are needed. Census officials will send someone to work with applicants.
Councilman George Kubin got a laugh when he said the complete count committee “sounds like a good thing for retired council people.”
(Allen and Councilman Jerry Church are not running for re-election and will be “retired council people” next year.)