Government

Why Iowa City is leading a census information campaign

Assistant City Manager Ashley Monroe explains need for Complete Count Committee volunteers

Ashley Monroe
Ashley Monroe

IOWA CITY — The city is hoping to find census volunteers to join its Complete Count Committee and reach people who may not be easily counted during the 2020 census.

The city has planned a public census information meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Mercer Park Aquatic Center, 2701 Bradford Dr.

Ashley Monroe, assistant city manager, discussed Iowa City’s efforts to make sure every resident is counted, especially those who may be homeless, immigrants or university students and don’t know how or why to respond to the census.

Q: What is a city’s role in the census?

A: I think our role is ... gathering our community members together. One, to educate and make people aware of what the census is and what it does for our community at large. And to also help the Census Bureau facilitate people to one, participate but also either be a census taker or to be part of the volunteer awareness campaign team.

The Complete Count Committee is that group that is intended to directly contact their connections within the community. It’s kind of like this big web of connections that we are building to talk about the census over the next year.

Q: Why is it important for a city to have an accurate census count?

A: The population and general information is also used to allocate billions of federal dollars to local municipalities and local entities. When we’re talking about things like the motor fuel tax that’s collected at the gas pump, they portion out our portion of those sales based on population. That’s what fixes our roads ...

Our housing assistance programs and economic development programs also rely on those federal census counts in order to determine what portion of funding is supposed to go to our community to help that population.

Q: What will the Complete Count Committee do?

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A: There should be a set group of people ... interested in meeting regularly and identifying who will lead ... or encourage sharing the information about the census in different areas of our community.

So people who have ties to marketing, people who have ties to the faith community, people who have ties to education organizations in the community, people in the business community, whatever the case may be, we want to see what connections those people might have and how we can spread information through them throughout the community ...

They might be the people out at public events or private events that stand at the farmers market or Party in the Park and talk about the census and hand out trinkets from the Census Bureau. We need volunteers to do those kinds of things.

Q: Anything else residents should know about the census?

A: We’ve been communicating with other surrounding government bodies. We’re all in agreement that whoever gets the message and wherever they live, it’s important for them to pay attention and answer it ...

I don’t care if people from North Liberty and unincorporated county come to our meeting. (They) are more than welcome because we’re all going to be working to the same goal.

• Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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