Valleywide effort aims for complete 2020 census |

Valleywide effort aims for complete 2020 census

Thomas Phippen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A group of municipalities, nonprofits and community groups are ramping up efforts to help count every person in the Roaring Fork Valley in the 2020 census.

“It’s vitally important that as many Coloradans participate in the census as possible,” said city of Aspen planner Phillip Supino.

Supino is heading up the Roaring Fork Valley Complete Count Committee, a group of people from Aspen to Parachute who will assist the U.S. Census Bureau to build awareness for the census next year.

The efforts could be complicated if the census includes a question on citizenship, but the message will be the same either way.

“We’re hopefully going to come up with some strategies for achieving a complete census count.”— Jennifer Ooton, Glenwood Springs assistant city manager

“Regardless of whether the citizenship question is on the census form, we are focused on getting 100 percent participation,” Supino said.

“We as a committee are going to do everything that we can to ensure that our community has all the information they need to feel safe participating in the census.”

The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected the Census Bureau’s arguments for including the citizenship question, but the politically charged issue hasn’t been clearly resolved.

Even if the 2020 census forms do include a question about the respondent’s citizenship, it would be illegal for the government to use that information for immigration enforcement, Supino said.

The committee started organizing in the upper valley in January, but after looking at how the economy and civic organizations functioned, they determined that the effort would be more effective to include the whole greater-Roaring Fork region.

Supino and the committee have contacted more than 200 representatives at city and county governments, school districts, RFTA, hospitals and nonprofits that work with the hard-to-count populations to try and get people to work together. The committee will meet in July to start working on messaging and outreach efforts.

“We’re hopefully going to come up with some strategies for achieving a complete census count,” Glenwood Springs Assistant City Manager Jennifer Ooton said.

The elderly over 75, those younger than 5, and rural populations can also be difficult to count.

The effort starts with making sure people recognize the importance of the census.

Each Coloradan accounts for approximately $2,300 in federal funds, according to the Department of Local Affairs.

With an estimated 700,000 more people in the state compared to the last census in 2010, Colorado stands to be eligible for a lot more in federal funds.

“The more accurate the count, the more adequate the funding will be for services everybody relies on,” Supino said.

The census could also mean Colorado gains another Congressional district and an additional vote in the Electoral College.

An accurate census is also critical for local issues. Towns and cities, school districts, counties and states also rely on the federal census data.

“We’re definitely watching to see where we land in our population growth,” Ooton said.