Only Uncle Sam would fail to see the irony and humor of a decision to kick off the decennial Census on the day most of us are wary of being made a fool. Our federal government has decreed April 1, 2020 “Census Day,” turning the traditional “Fool’s Day” into a key reference that will be used to determine how many people are living in your home, your county, your state and nation.
Don’t be a fool, fill out the Census form.
Cochise County residents will feel a unique sense of kinship with the 2020 Census. Dan Dever, brother of the late former Sheriff, Larry Dever, works as a Partnership Specialist at the Dallas Regional Census office. Like his brother, Dan grew up in the St. David area and is intimately familiar with southeast Arizona. He’s already been meeting with Cochise County officials and developing a strategy to count every man, woman and child during the census.
There’s a lot at stake for the county and Arizona.
Beyond the fascinating statistics that this process yields (did you know the state population has grown an estimated 14 percent since 2010?), the Census is the basis for representation in Congress and determines the allocation of federal funding.
If national projections hold true, pundits anticipate that Arizona will pick up another seat in the House of Representatives, continuing a streak that began after the 1960 census. During the past year the state’s population growth ranks third in the nation, behind Texas and Florida. Since the last census in 2010, Arizona has gained more people than all but six states, with those being California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Washington.
That’s not happening in Cochise County.
Our population dropped early in the decade, largely due to changes at Fort Huachuca, and only during the past few years has that trend leveled off and started to reverse. The addition of about 886,000 residents since 2010 in Arizona has happened largely in Phoenix and the anticipated increase in congressional representation will likely benefit that area, not Cochise County.
If anything the new boundaries that will follow the completion of the 2020 Census will increase the size of the existing legislative districts, making our representation in Congress and in the State Legislature more rural, not less.
We strongly support participating in the decennial Census, but we’re not looking forward to its consequences.