DuPage panel to help promote upcoming census

 
 
Updated 5/20/2019 4:20 PM
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  • DuPage County Board member Sadia Covert will lead a new committee aimed at ensuring the most accurate possible census count in DuPage County.

    DuPage County Board member Sadia Covert will lead a new committee aimed at ensuring the most accurate possible census count in DuPage County. Daily Herald file photo

A new DuPage County committee will work to ensure the most accurate 2020 census results possible and pursue a comprehensive outreach program to educate residents on the importance of the count.

Work on the decennial census is scheduled to begin next April, officials said. An accurate count is crucial, they say, because state and federal officials rely on population data to allocate money to counties and municipalities.

With that in mind, the county has formed its "DuPage Complete Count Committee" to provide "direction and advice to ensure an accurate 2020 census count."

The advisory group will work with federal Census Bureau representatives, as well as similar state and local committees.

In addition to helping decide how much state and federal money DuPage receives, census data will be used for congressional, state, legislative, county and local government representation as part of the reapportionment and redistricting process, county board Chairman Dan Cronin said.

"We want our count to be accurate so our communities are fairly represented here, in Springfield and in Washington, D.C.," he said.

County board member Sadia Covert, a Naperville Democrat, will serve as chairwoman of the committee. The vice chairman will be county board member Jim Healy, a Naperville Republican.

The committee will include a county board member and a mayor from each of the six county board districts. It also will include representatives from the regional office of education, the county health department and the county's community services department.

While the county board voted last week to create the committee, the decision wasn't unanimous; board members Dawn DeSart and Mary FitzGerald Ozog voted "no."

DeSart agreed that getting an accurate count is "vital," but she said she believes it's "premature" to create a committee now.

For example, DeSart said, it's not yet clear how much it's going to cost the panel to hire a consultant. The Aurora Democrat also wants to know if towns in her district already have complete count initiatives.

"My guess is that at least a couple of them do, " said DeSart, who represents a district that covers all or parts of Aurora, Lisle, Naperville and Warrenville. She said the county committee will "only duplicate their efforts."

Ozog, meanwhile, said the county board should formally oppose the Trump administration's plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

"I think it's going to be a really important issue," the Glen Ellyn Democrat said, "and I would like to see a move toward that."

"Whether we have that question or not, it doesn't really matter because we have to just work hard and work with the cards we are dealt," Covert said.

She said the county is planning "a big collaborative effort" and the committee could include representatives of religious groups, minority communities, civic organizations, educational institutions, the business community and not-for profit organizations.

"We need all hands on deck to get a complete count," she said, "so we can have proper representation and we can have adequate resources for everybody."

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