Loudoun’s Census Complete Count Committee Starts Works

A county committee tasked with making sure all residents are counted during the 2020 Census met for the first time Monday, exactly a year before Census Day.

Loudoun’s 20-member Complete Count Committee was developed according to guidelines from the U.S. Census Bureau, which is preparing for the decennial census as mandated in the Constitution. It is tasked with getting as many people as possible counted, especially in hard-to-reach and historically under-counted populations, including underprivileged and immigrant populations. A lot is on the line: On top of guiding government representation, election districts, transportation planning, and federal programs, Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Alvenia McQueen told the panel that each person not counted means $2,000 a year lost. More than $675 billion a year in federal funding for local, state and tribal governments is at stake across the country.

The committee will be tasked with making sure people are informed about the census and devising ways to reach as many people as possible. Next year’s census will also be different from previous years—the Census Bureau has less funding to work with, and for the first time the census can be answered online.

Amid concerns that a question on this year’s census about citizenship will cause some people not to answer, McQueen stressed that census responses are confidential.

“As a census bureau employee, I am bound legally to keep that information private and personal and confidential,” McQueen said. “We are bound to do that, and we are bound to do that for the rest of our lives whether work for the Census Bureau or not. We have had former presidents try to get the information—no can do.”

Current or former Census Bureau employees who reveal respondent data, a felony offense, can face up to 5 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. The Trump administration’s attempt to place a question about citizenship on the census is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Loudoun County Public Library Board of Trustees Chairman Mark Miller—who is also expected to serve on Northern Virginia’s regional complete count committee—said the debate around the citizenship question is not for Loudoun’s committee.

“I just want to remind the folks in this room that the questionnaire could be asking you if you like giraffes, if you think yellow is pretty, or if you think people live on Mars—the concern of ours is not any question that’s on that form, of any way, shape, or form,” Miller said. “The concern of ours is to make sure that people complete that form.”

McQueen also pointed out the Census comes during a federal election year.

“So we are going to be inundated with all kinds of messaging, and so it’s going to be about … being proactive about keeping this whole thing pertinent and in people’s minds,” McQueen said.

The committee is chaired by County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), with committee Vice Chairwoman Nicole Acosta, director of Grants and Nonprofit Programs at the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties. Members of the committee are also assembling a number of subcommittees, aimed at sectors like media, government, housing, education, faith-based organizations or the business community.

The committee’s members now include:

  • Tony Howard, president and CEO, Loudoun Chamber
  • Angel Cerritos, executive director, YMCA Loudoun County
  • Charlotte Fosque, executive director, Blue Ridge Speech & Hearing Center
  • Lisa Kimball, CEO, The Arc of Loudoun
  • Michelle Thomas, president, Loudoun NAACP
  • Pilar Acosta, teaching assistant, Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Rick Pearson, board member, Northern Virginia Community College
  • Beverly Tate, director of planning, Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Syed M. Ashraf, co-chair, ADAMS Civic Engagement
  • Mike Taylor, pastor, Community Church
  • Rajesh (Raj) Kasaraneni, board chair, Loudoun Valley Estates II
  • Glenda Blake, director, Department of Family Services
  • Mark Miller, chairman, Loudoun County Public Library Board of Trustees
  • Phyllis J. Randall, county chairwoman
  • Valmarie Turner, assistant Loudoun County administrator
  • Roger Vance, mayor, Town of Hillsboro
  • Cheryl Watson, assistant director, Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Services
  • Nicole Acosta, Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties
  • Robert W. Lazaro Jr., executive director, Northern Virginia Regional Commission
  • Sreedhar NagiReddi, Loudoun County representative, Virginia State CCC

Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Alvenia McQueen leads a training and orientation session for the county’s new Complete Count Committee. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]
rgreene@loudounnow.com

 

 

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