Long before the state of AZ launched a website promoting the 2020 census, Gila County already had one – explaining the importance of the census and how local population demographics from each of our communities translates into money and political clout over the next decade. Starting more than a year ago, Gila County’s Board of Supervisors wisely appointed a ‘Complete Count Committee’ team drawing from north-to-south, and with an especially enthusiastic trio of San Carlos Apaches representing our neighboring Tribal Nation partners.
And they’ve been busy! Staffing census-promotional booths at the Gila County Fair, driving festively decorated census floats through parades in Miami, Payson, San Carlos (to name a few); designing and hanging banners throughout the county – contributing a steady flow of articles to this and other local media; with an equal push on radio airwaves. Committee members such as Michelle Yerkovich in Globe showed their own Individual initiative – in her case, filming and posting a series of engaging ‘STOP – and Do Your Census! One-minute videos, each spotlighting a new City of Globe leader or staffer – to reach even more people on Facebook.
The effort is paying off – particularly in Payson, where 61-percent of the populace has already been counted during 2020 Census ‘self-response’ which began in March, when the census website opened for local residents to complete our own census.
“I’m glad we had the foresight to start pushing census awareness more than a year ago,” said Gila County Supervisor Tim Humphrey, whose District 2 includes Globe-Miami, Roosevelt, Tonto Basin and Gisela. “And I’m proud that my fellow Gila County Supervisors were united, deciding to take the lead on this, well before covid-19 disrupted the federal government’s census operation. We anticipated the 2020 census would be difficult, and knowing the federal government would not adequately fund it, we allocated money to create promotional giveaways like pens, stickers and census bags - we’ve pushed census self-response in the media every chance we get - and at the community meetings I host each month throughout District 2, I talk about what the census means to Gila County in terms of money that funds social service programs - and the number of Arizona’s representatives to Congress. And, ultimately, its each of our own responsibility -- its in the Constitution! So, do your census today, if you haven’t already.
How can you help? It could hardly be simpler – go online and complete your census today -- the 2020 Census has been extended to Oct. 31, due to covid-19’s delay of field operations.
As of mid-June Globe’s total was 51.7-percent, meaning there’s a 50/50 chance that you haven’t done yours yet. Odds are even better for Star Valley (44.8-percent) residents and those who live in Miami (34-percent). Hayden and Winkelman are nearly tied at 18.8 and 18.4, respectively. County-wide, the average is about 37-percent.
Why is census data crucial for Gila
County, and each community within?
It’s estimated that up to $3,000 per person, per year is at stake for every Arizonan. That is more than $20 billion dollars annually that helps support Arizona’s communities. In fact, for every Arizonan who does not respond to the census, the state stands to lose $887 in federal funding.
Just a 1% undercount would represent a loss to the state of $62 million per year for a decade, for a total loss of $620 million. The census also impacts our political representation. Arizona stands to gain an additional representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Our local political boundaries are also based on census data, from our school districts to our state legislature.
Gila County’s Census 2020 Complete
County Committee: Accomplishments
Globe-Miami, Payson, Pine, Roosevelt and San Carlos appointees have been hustling to get the message out that
“We All Count.”
A synopsis of activity over the past year includes:
• Six-foot census banners printed locally, and distributed to Globe and towns across the county – and you can’t miss the 9-footer made at special request for the Rim Country Chamber, now proudly displayed along the main drag through Payson
• ‘Ask me about the census’ booths starting one year ago – at July 4th community events in Payson and Miami; the Gila County Fair, Hayden Fiesta, San Carlos Apache events
• Gila County compiled a thorough list of venues from Pine-Strawberry down to Hayden-Winkelman that offer free internet access (such as every one of our public libraries!) and published a poster listing places in each community where you can complete your own census online, and for free
• Patriotic, colorful, red-white-and-blue bunting-draped entries in the massive, and famous, San Carlos Apache Veterans Weekend parade. Plus parades in Miami, Payson, and elsewhere.
• Constant stream of articles published in the Payson Roundup and in both Globe weekly papers (Silver Belt/Copper Country News), and thorough, in-depth features in the Globe-Miami Times. Themes of a few catchy news releases included:
‘Census 2020 Is Now Online’; ‘Engage Your Kids During Quarantine? Do Your CensusTogether’ ; ‘Something Different For Kids At Home: 2020 Census Projects’; ‘Do your Census -- its worth up to $3,000 for Gila County’; ‘2020 Census: an Online Family Civics Lesson’
• Gila County’s IT department added a ‘Census logo postscript’ to the bottom of all outbound emails - an effort mirrored by the City of Globe and other partner communities
• Another innovation by Gila County’s IT crew – presciently adding a census 2020 ‘landing page’ to the county website all the way back in June of 2019 – months before the state of Arizona followed suit.
• Gila County designed and ordered 15,000 bookmarks, 10,000 stickers, 6,000 magnets, and another 1,000 each ‘jar grippers’ and tote bags -- to be distributed to schools the week before spring break. Creatively making additional use of these promotional giveaway items, bookmarks and stickers were given to entities that stepped-up to provide lunches for kids out-of-school due to covid-19. And what’s more? Bookmarks and stickers are also given to people who visit community service agencies for resources.
• Oh, and rolls of stickers were also given to popular restaurants that graciously agreed to place one-sticker-each on takeout order bags (and a note of thanks to Bloom, Copper Bistro, Guayos, Dick’s Chicken).
• Knowing covid-19 overshadowed 2020 census awareness, Gila County bought airtime on Globe and Rim Country radio stations: highlighting messages including “you don’t need a password, or code” and repeating the economic importance and good citizenship of completing your own census
• Constant social media posts and shares (and here’s a thanks to so many partners in this effort, from the City of Globe and Globe-Miami Chamber, to the Rim Country Chamber, and the most popular social sites in Payson and Globe). And if you haven’t seen Michelle’s lighthearted, engaging ‘STOP – and Do Your Census’ videos, find ‘em on Facebook – they’re creative, and cute – and they repeat a valid point! She made at least nine, at last count. They’re easy to find archived at the City of Globe page on Facebook; as well as the Globe Public Library’s page – and Mayor Al Gameros’ page. The Mayor, by the way, has also been an active member of the complete count committee – and an effective spokesman for the census over the past 12 months.
• Gila County’s Official ‘Teacher Ambassador’ Mr. M from Miami High School – a liaison and “Census evangelist” educating students, weaving demographics into teacher lesson plans – so kids bring census awareness home to families
• Sponsoring ‘Launch Day’ special events, when the federal census website went live in March. For example, Miami Library’s Sue Pontel setup laptops downtown and helped residents complete their census—while Miami Rotary members grilled and gave out free hotdogs, chips and drinks nearby – sponsored by Gila County. Globe Public Library’s Adrea Ricke setup at the debut Farmers’ Market, too, with internet access and friendly encouragement for locals to do their census.