Long before the state of Arizona launched a website promoting the 2020 Census, Gila County already had one — explaining the importance of the census and how local population demographics from Rim Country 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 members came from north and south, with delegates from Pine-Strawberry and Payson and an especially enthusiastic trio of San Carlos Apaches representing 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 Payson, Miami and San Carlos; designing and hanging banners throughout the county; contributing a steady flow of articles to this and other local media.
The effort is paying off — particularly in Payson, where 61% of the populace has already been counted during 2020 Census self-response period that began in March when the census website opened for local residents to complete their own census form.
How can you help? It could hardly be simpler — go online and complete your census today. As of mid-June Globe’s total was 51.7%, meaning there’s a 50/50 chance that you haven’t completed it yet. Odds are even better for Star Valley residents, only 44.8% have responded and those who live in Miami, where just 34% have completed the forms. Hayden and Winkelman are nearly tied at 18.8 and 18.4, respectively. Countywide, the average is about 37%.
The good news — you haven’t missed it; in fact the window for self-reporting lasts through Halloween, Oct. 31, in efforts to assure a thorough and accurate 2020 count.
“As a Payson resident I’m proud of our close-knit community for being in the lead, and self-response is marching upwards in communities such as Pine-Strawberry now that census questionnaires are being dropped at residential doorsteps,” said Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin, District 1.
“Ten years ago we beat these drums — encouraging people to participate with the 2010 census, and we fully expected that 2020 would be a challenging year for this effort — so Gila County and the Board of Supervisors were pushing census awareness even before COVID-19 and the obvious impact that has had on suppressing census field work. So, whether you are a Gila County homeowner or a new arrival, we need your help — and, fortunately, we’re not asking much! All that’s required is for you to complete your census today. For the first time in U.S. history, it’s online — and most people say it takes less than five minutes. You don’t need a password or any special access code, either, just go online and ‘git’er done,’ both to help your town — and give us an accurate census for Gila County as a whole,” Martin said.
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. Local political boundaries are also based on census data from our school districts to our state legislature.
Gila’s Census 2020 Complete County
Committee AccomplishmentsPayson, Pine, Roosevelt, Globe-Miami 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 hung across the county are a prominent reminder — particularly impressive is the nine-footer made at the special request of the Rim Country chamber, now proudly displayed along the Beeline.
• “Ask me about the census” booths starting one year ago — at July 4 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 in parades in Miami, Payson, and elsewhere.
• Monthly feature articles and reminders published here in the Roundup, in Globe’s two weekly papers, plus the Globe-Miami Times. Themes of a few catchy news releases included:
“Census 2020 Is Now Online,” “Engage Your Kids During Quarantine? Do Your Census Together,” “Something Different For Kids At Home: 2020 Census Projects,” “Do your Census — It’s 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. Bookmarks and stickers are also given to people who visit community service agencies for resources.
• 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). If you haven’t seen Michelle’s lighthearted, engaging “STOP – and Do Your Census” videos, find them 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, who, 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 set up 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 set up at the debut Farmers Market, too, with internet access and friendly encouragement for locals to do their census.