Story provided by City of Stillwater
Why should we care about an accurate 2020 U.S. Census count? That is the question Stillwater’s Complete Count Committee is going to answer over the next year.
According to Paula Dennison, Complete Count Committee chair and City of Stillwater Development Services director, “The short answer is the U.S. Census is used to determine the number of representatives in Congress and the number of electoral votes we have in presidential elections. Following the 2000 census, Oklahoma lost one of its congressional representatives, going from six to five. A community’s count also affects how much federal tax money comes back to the community for housing, transportation, and other services we rely on.”
In Stillwater, an early step toward preparing for the census involved the Stillwater City Council creating a Complete Count Committee to spread the word about the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census in our communities and amongst special population groups.
“The 2020 Census is coming and cities and counties need to prepare,” Dennison said. “For it to be successful and get everyone counted, we have to work together.”
Stillwater’s current committee members include representatives from Stillwater, Glencoe, Perkins, Cushing, OSU, and various community stakeholder groups such as the business community, education, and health care.
There’s always room for more, however. Volunteers from across Stillwater and Payne County are encouraged to bring their expertise to the committee.
“The committee members share a common goal—to motivate every resident in Payne County to complete and return their 2020 U.S. Census questionnaires,” Dennison said. “When community members are informed, they are more likely to respond to the census.”
“We believe that through collaborative partnerships like this we will reach our goal of counting everyone in 2020,” she added.
Dennison believes that Stillwater has been historically undercounted, and this results in real consequences. For instance, people may not know that companies use population and demographic data from the Census to determine where to set up shop and expand—creating jobs and opportunities for Oklahomans. One change that may help achieve an accurate Census count is that for the first time, residents can complete short-form questionnaires online.
The Stillwater committee will be reaching out to and educating the community from now until April 1, 2020, which is also known as Census Day.
“Many states, counties, and cities have already made significant commitments to ensure an accurate and full count,” Dennison said. “It’s time for Stillwater, area cities and towns, and Payne County to make the same commitment to protecting our voice, our quality of life, and our economy.”
Representatives of cities and towns in Payne County are encouraged to join the Complete Count Committee to ensure as accurate a count for their community as possible.
If you are interested in serving, fill out the quick online volunteer form at stillwater.org/page/completecount
Interested individuals may also contact Dennison at 405.742.8214 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.