It’s good to see the Longview City Council taking strong first steps toward seeing that our city has a full and accurate count for the 2020 Census.
“Every segment needs to be counted,” Mayor Andy Mack rightly said, and called on each member of the council to bring forth names for a Complete Count Committee that will work at ground level to make certain all in our city are recorded.
Now, we hope the enthusiasm lasts for the entire length of the counting.
Conducting a census is a basic requirement of the U.S. Constitution. When that founding document was written, the census was to be taken once every 10 years for the purpose of deciding representation from the various states to the U.S. House of Representatives.
It is easy to see why a correct count matters here: The higher the population, the more representation in Congress we deserve and should claim. Texas does not want to let other states take representation that belongs to Texans. That’s exactly what could happen with an incomplete count.
But the census numbers are also used to determine how state Senate and House districts are drawn. For Gregg County to have full representation during sessions of the Legislature, that complete count is necessary.
In this case, an undercount could mean shifting more legislative power toward nearby districts in East Texas, or even toward the urban centers of Dallas or Houston. The closer we can have legislative districts centered near Longview, the better off we will be.
Nor does the need for a full count end with those important matters. Over the years, the census also has been used as the primary tool for deciding how to divvy up money from federal and state grants.
Gregg County sends a great amount of tax money toward Austin and Washington, and our state has long been one of the states that sends much more to the federal government than it gets in return benefits.
It is only fair to taxpayers that we get as much back as possible. The only way that is going to happen is for everyone to be counted.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Some people, for various reasons, do not want to be counted. Single mothers who often work multiple jobs or long hours are among the groups typically undercounted. The same is true for those who are renters, immigrants, either legal or illegal, and young adults between the ages of 18 to 24.
That represents a lot of problem areas in Gregg County’s population and in East Texas generally. It also represents those who could be helped by the state and federal grants that might be forthcoming with a full count.
The beginning plan by the city is good, but the work of convincing all to participate should really be the job of everyone who wants to see Gregg County continue to prosper. Watch for more of what the city has planned and begin talking up the census now.
The work cannot begin too soon.