On Tuesday, May 14, the DuPage County Board voted to create an intergovernmental committee called the “DuPage Complete Count Committee” to provide direction and advice to ensure an accurate 2020 Census count of DuPage County residents.
The DuPage Complete Count Committee will include a board member and a mayor from each DuPage County Board district, along with representatives from the Regional Office of Education, the DuPage County Health Department, and the DuPage Community Services Department. The DuPage County Board Chairman might also appoint representatives of religious groups, minority communities, units of local government, civic organizations, educational institutions, the business community, and not-for profit organizations.
Although I am not opposed to the establishment of this committee in the near future, I do believe it is premature and voted ‘no’ last Tuesday.
Getting an accurate 2020 census count is vital for DuPage County. State and local funds are distributed based on population, meaning that every person is important when advocating for funding and representation. The strength of census statistics and data also help inform many public policy proposals at all levels of government.
One of the first tenets of good governance is responsible allocation of tax dollars. Unfortunately, there were no hard figures provided to our municipal partners on how much this project would cost or for hiring a consultant to be tasked with exactly what is yet to be determined.
Earlier this year at the state level, the Illinois Complete Count Commission chaired by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that $4 million in grant funding is available for community organizations to help increase census participation, especially in immigrant communities.
Many grants are also available to state, county and municipal Complete Count Committees to reach typically unreported and under-reported segments of the population. Hard-to-Count populations (HTCs) are groups that have historically been less likely to respond to the census. NCSL, a bipartisan organization providing states with support, ideas, connections and a voice on Capitol Hill, says that a report by the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations Administrative Records, Internet, and Hard to Count Population Working Group identified HTCs, both rural and urban, and include the following groups.
Young children, ages 0 to 4, who comprise the most undercounted age category.
Racial and ethnic minorities.
Those who do not speak fluent English.
Homeless people or people living in housing units that might not meet local regulations.
People with a postal address that is different from their home address, often in rural areas.
Mobile individuals, such as renters and college students.
Those who might be distrustful of the government.
With so many grant dollars available, first apply to receive the grants, and, if applicable, then hire the consultant with the grant money and charge our municipal partners nothing.
In my District, District 5, I would like to know if my communities (Naperville, Aurora, Lisle, Woodridge, and Warrenville) already have a Complete Count Committee established. My guess is that at least a couple do and therefore, they might want to opt out of a DuPage County Committee that would only duplicate their efforts. Good governance is collaborative government, and I do have emails in to the mayors of my two largest municipalities, requesting their feedback.
This county committee is expected to have more than 30 people on it. With that large of a committee, the groundwork should have been laid, and these questions answered, prior to such a committee’s first meeting.
Again, the importance of an accurate 2020 Census count in DuPage County is imperative, but why the haste in rolling out this committee if it will only duplicate efforts already in the works?
Because of these many unanswered questions, I voted “no.” With my “no” vote, I wanted to put the brakes on the DuPage County Complete Count Committee to facilitate due diligence through a complete, fully transparent, thoroughly researched, fact-driven, taxpayer-conscious proposal. The proposal offered on May 14th was anything but that.
Until these questions are answered, the establishment of such a committee is premature.