OTTUMWA — Wapello County supervisors are preparing for the 2020 census, and they urge all residents to participate.
At Tuesday’s meeting, County Supervisors met to approve of a letter pledging support for the 2020 census.
“This letter says Wapello County, Iowa, does pledge support for getting the correct count for the 2020 census,” Parker said, “and will assist in creating a complete count committee to assist with the local outreach. They want a commitment from us that we will do the best we can to have a correct amount.”
County Supervisor Brian Morgan said there are several census jobs a person can take on, including, recruiting assistants, census field supervisors, address listers, census enumerators/takers and others.
Supervisors said this count is crucial. “It’s a constitutional imperative that it’s done,” Morgan said.
While the census is public, the records are not.
“Under federal law — the census records are kept secret,” Parker said. “The totals are released, but the census records are kept secret for 70 years. I don’t know why it’s a federal law. I think it’s to encourage people to allow themselves to be counted.”
Parker said some residents were hesitant to be counted in previous years.
“A newspaper article in the 60s said the census records show there are 500 and some people there, when there were 1,000,” Parker said. “The reason they didn’t get counted is they were wanted by the police and nervous about someone knocking on their door they didn’t know. They didn’t give this information because of fear, retaliation, or getting arrested.”
Parker said residents in 2019 who are in trouble with the FBI or police shouldn’t have to worry about them being apart of the census count because the FBI is not “privy to this information.”
Parker said even residents who are here illegally or are not U.S. citizens should participate because the supervisors want everyone counted, no matter their status because there are benefits to getting counted.
“If they’re listed as counted, probably $600 billion dollars are given out to state cities and counties based on population,” Parker said. “The higher count we get, the better we’re going to be as far as getting more dollars into the community. For example, whether you’re illegal, an immigrant on a green card, you’re going to be driving on roads that are improved because our count was higher. What we do locally, will touch you everyday. The government does help you whether you’re a citizen or not, you still benefit.”