Census underway, with a lot on the line

Mar 13, 2020

    The 2020 United States Census is now in full-swing. The once-a-decade count of people in America kicked off on Nelson Island last month, and is underway nationwide.

    This year, or decade as it were,  people can fill out the Census form -- which is less than a dozen questions -- online. Mail reminders will start arriving this month, and for those still not counted, people called numerators will go door-to-door in May to help people fill out the forms.

    Tim Dillon of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District office in Kenai has been tasked by Mayor Charlie Pierce to spearhead the effort to get as complete a count of people on the peninsula as possible.

“Our big concern is that we get everybody counted. When you look at 2010, our participation was the lowest in the nation. We're trying to make sure that that's different this time around. I'm pleased at times I was like, "What did Charlie get me into?" when he asked me if I would help with this,” Dillon said. “But the more and more I work on it, I understand, and the people I deal with understand, this is economic development. This means an awful lot of money not just to the State of Alaska, but to the Kenai Peninsula Borough.”

    Dillon made those comments before the borough assembly recently, but he’s brought the same message to chamber lunches and city council meetings across the peninsula. 

    “Remember, the census means two things. It means power and it means money,” he said. “Those hard dollars, approximately $3,000 to $4,000 per individual that are counted. And also the lines for any kind of elections are taken from the census.”

    Dillon is also quick to remind Alaskans that the vast majority of us already give the state government more information than the census is asking when we apply for the Permanent Fund Dividend each year.