Supervisors have appointed an 18-member committee chaired by county Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) to make sure as many people as possible are counted in the 2020 decennial United States Census.
The Complete Count Committee was designed according to recommendations from the Census Bureau. Its members include county employees in human services; leaders of community organizations like the YMCA, the Arc of Loudoun and the Loudoun NAACP; and leaders from faith communities, nonprofit organizations, the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, the school system, the public library, and Loudoun Valley Estates.
The committee will be tasked with finding hard-to-count and historically under-counted populations, like minority populations, immigrants, renters, and low-income households, in part through building awareness of the census before it begins.
Randall said the people who are most often undercounted are children under five years old.
“The more people are told ahead of time, so that when the envelope comes to their home in the mail that they will fill it out and return it, that makes it easier,” said Supervisors Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian).
Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) warned against making political appointments to the board—or making it unmanageably big.
“This is not about us putting our friends on it, this was a process that that the Census Bureau recommends for us to reach out to certain segments and sectors of our community and to get a broad reach out to our community, and try to get as much participation as possible,” Buona said.
He said the Complete Count Committee should not get too large. He warned against what he saw as the cautionary lesson of the 26-member stakeholder steering committee that oversaw the first step of the county’s efforts to rewrite its comprehensive plan, now more than a year behind its original schedule.
“It got so big, and yeah, we tried to get everybody with all diverse opinions, but in many ways that kind of slowed the process down by probably an entire year, because eventually we got paralysis because the conflicting views could never iron things out,” Buona said.
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) wondered about counting undocumented residents in the census.
“I think we just need to go with eyes wide open if we’re going to talk about this, because we’re going to get questions from the public about whether we’re advocating for people who don’t currently have legal status to be counted in the census,” Meyer said.
The U.S. Census counts all people in the country regardless of age, immigration status, or other factors.
“Part of the complete count committee’s primary responsibility is to do outreach to ensure that we are counting every individual,” said Assistant County Administrator Valmarie Turner. “And the reason why the county is so important is because it impacts our federal funding, it can impact any type of seats that we have at the state level, the federal level and so forth. So our goal is to count everyone, pursuant to the guidelines established by the Census Bureau.”
Meyer also theorized that because some federal resources are allocated due to population as counted by the census, localities will try to attract as many undocumented immigrants as possible.
“I think, as a county, I think we probably have a pretty low per capita versus other parts of the country, and obviously if federal resources are allocated based on total persons, it does give an adverse incentive to try to attract people who are not here legally to their jurisdictions,” Meyer said.
This year’s census has been overshadowed by attempts by the administration of President Donald J. Trump to add a question about citizenship to the census questionnaire, prompting concerns that will discourage some people from answering the census and skewing its results. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently deliberating whether to allow that question on the census.
“The census really is about who is here, and we want to count everybody who is here despite their legal status, because each county is probably spending money on everyone who is here despite their legal status,” Randall said. “And so since the census actually gives out federal money, we want to count everyone so we can receive the funds.”
“I’m excited about this and know that this is going to be a good process,” Volpe said. “And I think it’s important for us to do this, and half of it is literally educating the community ahead of time.”
The Complete Count Committee’s members include:
- Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large)
- Valmarie Turner, Assistant County Administrator, County of Loudoun
- Glenda Blake, Loudoun County Department of Family Services
- Cheryl Watson, Assistant Director, Loudoun County Department of Mental Health,
- Substance Abuse & Developmental Services
- Angel Cerritos, Executive Director, YMCA Loudoun County
- Charlotte Fosque, Executive Director, Blue Ridge Speech & Hearing Center 6. Lisa Kimball, Chief Executive Officer, The ARC of Loudoun
- Pastor Michelle Thomas, President, Loudoun NAACP
- Syed M. Ashraf, Co-Chair ADAMS Civic Engagement
- Pastor Mike Taylor, Community Church (Ashburn)
- Tony Howard, President and CEO, Loudoun Chamber
- Sreedhar NagiReddi, Loudoun County Representative, Virginia State CCC
- Nicole Acosta, Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties
- Robert W. Lazaro, Jr., Executive Director, Northern Virginia Regional Commission
- Beverly Tate, Director of Planning, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS)
- Rajesh (Raj) Kasaraneni, Board Chair, Loudoun Valley Estates II (Cardinal Management)
- Pilar Acosta, Teacher Assistant, Loudoun County Public Schools.
- Mark Miller, Chairman, At-Large, Loudoun County Public Library Board of Trustees