Local leaders: Miami Valley will get ‘shut out’ without accurate census

City and county leaders said all hands must be on deck to get a complete count in the 2020 Census.

Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge said getting an accurate count is important for funding at the state and federal level, among other things.

“We’re going to get shut out if we don’t show that we need that money,” Dodge said.

Dodge, Chair of the Dayton-Montgomery County Complete Count Committee Nikol Miller, Dayton Daily News Editor Jim Bebbington and Huber Heights City Manager Rob Schommer spoke on a panel about the importance of getting an accurate count in the upcoming 2020 Census.

The Dayton Unit of the NAACP hosted the panel at Roosevelt school, 1923 W. Third St., on Monday night. Scott Sliver, chair of communication, press and publicity for the Dayton NAACP, moderated the discussion.

“The census impacts everything we do,” Miller said. “Everything that you do has some tie to the census.”

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The four panelists discussed the need for accurate census data in order to get favorable congressional representation, adequate funding and to run a local municipality.

The count also helps draw boundaries for congressional, state and local districts. According to some studies, Miller said, Ohio is on track to lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives because it is not growing as quickly as some other states.

Miller, community relations manager for the Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and the chair of the complete count committee, said there will be a “census bus” starting in April. From April 1 through the summer, one RTA bus will be equipped with WiFi so riders can fill out the 2020 Census.

Miller said the complete count committee has also partnered with the Dayton Metro Library to train librarians to be able to help people complete the census. Staff will be available to help people who have difficulties completing the census.

The Dayton-Montgomery County Complete Count Committee was established in 2018 to stress to residents the importance of completing the census.

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“This is just another access point for people,” Miller said. “We are trying to meet people where they are at.”

One project Dodge works on year-round is providing healthy food to Montgomery County citizens.

“We’ve had a lot of grocery stores closing, and it’s very difficult for a lot of these residents to get to grocery stores to get good, healthy food,” Dodge said. “We’re always applying for grants to try to get little grocery stands. If we don’t have that many people counted here, they’re going to say ‘Well, you’re on your own with that.’ That’s just one reason that this is so important.”

Bebbington, editor of the Dayton Daily News, said getting an accurate count is important to the newspaper, too.

“There’s not been an edition of the Dayton Daily News in the 27 years that I’ve been there that did not have at least one story that relied on census data in order to help tell that story,” Bebbington said. “The numbers that are generated this year, (the Dayton Daily News) will literally will use for the next decade.”

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