Checked in at Wally’s Friday morning to see what Councilwoman Aundie Witt was up to with the city’s Census 2020 Complete Count Committee.
Witt, who I can tell you is a hard-charger, is getting a head start on efforts to count every Pioneer that hangs their hat in East Ridge.
The census is done every 10 years and is mandated by the Constitution of the United States … thanks for that reminder Earl Wilson. The original purpose of a census was to establish Congressional districts to make sure all the people in the United States are represented.
Of course, it has evolved throughout the decades and last two centuries to gather more information about each and every one of us. The census now wants to know the age, race, gender, level of education and so on. But the most important question on the census is “how many people live in your household?”
Why, you may ask? The short answer is money. Federal and state grants are oftentimes awarded based on the population of a municipality. According to census information, $675 billion of federal money is distributed each year to states and municipalities, and census information helps guide those dollars.
The population of East Ridge for the last 20 years or so has been between 18,000 and 21,000. With new housing developments being built in the city we could assume that the population of East Ridge should be increasing.
And, according to the latest data on our city, the demographic make up of East Ridge is people of color comprise about 27 percent of the city’s population of 21,932. The Hispanic population is about 13 percent, and the African American population is 14 percent.
Aaron Oliver, a PTA big wig with area schools and a member of the complete count committee, says that East Ridge Elementary is one of the most diverse schools in Hamilton County. It was noted that English as a second language classes are taught in some East Ridge schools.
Witt and her complete count committee recognize it’s going to be a challenge to get an accurate accounting of our neighbors who may not speak English and be distrustful of government authority. They are making plans to reach out to the youngsters in schools to help them take the message home that EACH AND EVERY ONE of us needs to be counted. It’s critical.
Diane Qualls, the city’s Finance Director, drove home just how critical a complete count is in Saturday’s “Meet the Mayor” event at Local Coffee. According to Qualls, a Certified Municipal Finance Officer, state money is sometimes apportioned based on each individual residing in a city.
According to Witt, some census material has already been mailed out. More postcards will go out on March 1, 2020. According to census information, you will have an option of responding online or on the phone. If you don’t respond, a census taker will visit your house.
And all this information remains sealed for 72 years. In addition, by law, census responses cannot be used by ANY government agency or court in any way.
All this can be kind of scary if you don’t speak English and may be here without documentation. It’s sometimes kind of scary for those who DO speak English but are distrustful of government; you know like journalists.
However, I’m going to make sure that my household is counted, and I urge all readers of East Ridge News Online to stand up and be counted in the 2020 United States Census.
I count, you count, we all count.