Kane County mayors to public: Get those census forms filled out

  • Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin references his fellow Kane County civic leaders Mayor Kevin Burns of Geneva, left, President Dale Berman of North Aurora and Mayor David Kaptain of Elgin, during a census rally in Geneva Wednesday. The cities of Elgin and Aurora teamed up to hold "census caravans" that met halfway at Fox Valley Ice Arena.

      Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin references his fellow Kane County civic leaders Mayor Kevin Burns of Geneva, left, President Dale Berman of North Aurora and Mayor David Kaptain of Elgin, during a census rally in Geneva Wednesday. The cities of Elgin and Aurora teamed up to hold "census caravans" that met halfway at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin Mayor David Kaptain and some of his fellow Kane County leaders spoke at a census rally in Geneva Wednesday. The cities of Elgin and Aurora teamed up to hold "census caravans" that met halfway at Fox Valley Ice Arena.

      Elgin Mayor David Kaptain and some of his fellow Kane County leaders spoke at a census rally in Geneva Wednesday. The cities of Elgin and Aurora teamed up to hold "census caravans" that met halfway at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Aurora Mayor Mayor Richard Irvin and some of his fellow Kane County leaders spoke at a census rally in Geneva Wednesday. The cities of Elgin and Aurora teamed up to hold "census caravans" that met halfway at Fox Valley Ice Arena.

      Aurora Mayor Mayor Richard Irvin and some of his fellow Kane County leaders spoke at a census rally in Geneva Wednesday. The cities of Elgin and Aurora teamed up to hold "census caravans" that met halfway at Fox Valley Ice Arena. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/15/2020 5:03 PM

Please, please, please fill out your census questionnaire, leaders from Elgin, Aurora, Geneva and North Aurora said Wednesday at a "National Census Surge Week" pep rally.

"The census is about equity. The census is about parity. The census is about representation. The census is about providing the funding for all of these things and more," Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said from a stage in the parking lot of the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Complete Count committees for Aurora and Elgin held caravans Wednesday morning through their towns and into Geneva. A giant inflatable cellphone depicting a census app was next to the stage. Speakers also included Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, Elgin Mayor David Kaptain and North Aurora President Dale Berman.

"In Aurora, we simply say 'I count! You count! We all count!" Irvin said.

Kane County is doing better than the state as a whole at answering the census questionnaire, with 73% of its residents having responded either online or on paper.

But its self-response rate would be a lot better if more people in its two most populous towns, Elgin and Aurora -- which account for about 45% of the county's population -- answered.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Huntley had the best response rate of Kane towns, with 85.5%. The worst was Burlington, with 60.2%.

Aurora was second-worst, with a 63.6% response rate. Lily Lake lags too, at 69.3% as does Elgin, with 70.2%.

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If you don't fill out the census, an enumerator is likely to show up on your doorstep, starting Aug. 11, to ask the questions.

The federal government is mandated, per the Constitution, to take a head count every 10 years. The data is used for many things, but the initial, and chief, reason is that it is how Congressional districts are apportioned.

Locally, the districts of the Kane County Board will be redesigned, as will wards in Aurora, Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles, based on the results.

The results also could determine whether towns receive or lose home-rule status. A municipality has to have at least 25,000 residents to have home-rule power without having a referendum.

Batavia gained home-rule authority after a special census in 2009. Other home-rule towns in Kane County are Aurora, Oswego, Carpentersville, East Dundee, West Dundee, St. Charles and Lake in the Hills.

In addition, per capita distributions of government money use census data. Kaptain said he has been told that each person counted means about $1,500 in federal and state money for Elgin each year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

College of DuPage President Brian Caputo, head of Aurora's committee, said if even 1% of Aurora is not counted, the city would "lose" $3.5 million in state revenues, such as income tax and motor-fuel sales tax disbursements, over 10 years. Public libraries receive annual per-person awards from the state.

The event was attended by almost 60 people, most of them affiliated with the various towns' "Complete Count" committees or governments and nonprofit agencies that receive government funding.

Irvin tied the census into the COVID-19 crisis, noting that the disease is disproportionately affecting Black, Hispanic and low-income people, and that historically those groups have lower census self-response rates. Some government funding used to fight the effects of the pandemic relies on census data, he said.

"Now it (a full count) is even more important. COVID-19 has shined a light on the gross inequities" in American society, he said.

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