The 2020 U.S. Census is still a year away, but cities and states are getting an early start on encouraging residents to participate.

This week the city of Hermiston issued a proclamation that it is “committed to partnering with the US Census Bureau and the Umatilla County Complete Count Committee to promote participation” in the U.S. Census.

“We need to make sure the community is aware this is coming and how important it is to get an accurate count,” Mayor David Drotzmann said.

He said he hoped that residents would realize the census was not about finding specific people, such as undocumented immigrants, but was instead about “pure numbers.”

The proclamation published Monday noted that census numbers assist in planning for schools, hospitals, roads, utilities and other community assets. About $675 billion in state and federal funds are issued every year based on the U.S. Census.

Umatilla city manager David Stockdale said he would encourage Umatilla residents to participate in the comprehensive count of every man, woman and child in the United States so that Umatilla can get the full state and federal funding it is entitled to. Census counts also determine cities’ eligibility for grants for major projects.

“I want to make sure people clearly understand those numbers have a significant and major impact on our city,” he said.

He pointed out that the census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and that it has taken place every 10 years for the entire history of the United States.

He said Umatilla’s population includes Two Rivers Correctional Institution and inmates there will be included in the census.

Milton-Freewater city manager Linda Hall said the census is a “very important time for municipalities.”

It is not only important for people to participate in the count, she said, but also to report other information such as age and income level accurately.

She said grants for community projects often take demographics into consideration, and cities and schools also use demographic information for planning purposes.

“You can get a feel for, do you need to start gearing up to more services that would serve a certain age group, such as senior citizens or young families,” she said.

Gov. Kate Brown declared April 1 “Census Day” for the entire state of Oregon to bring awareness to the issue.

“From more federal dollars for our schools and hospitals, to ensuring our roads are safe and well-kept, the census has a profound and significant effect in the lives of all Oregonians,” she said in a statement.

“An accurate census not only allows us to have better representation in Congress, but it also tells the story of Oregon — who we are, and where we are going.”

By April 1, 2020, all households will have received an invitation to participate in the census via mail, phone or — for the first time in this country’s history — online. The census will record where each person was living on April 1, 2020.

Census takers will begin following up in May 2020 with households that have not responded, and by December 2020 the bureau will deliver counts to the president that will be used, among other things, to apportion representation in the House of Representatives and a state’s Electoral College votes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau website, U.S. residents may see census employees in their neighborhoods throughout this year, as they verify addresses or drop off census materials.

Legitimate census takers will present an ID badge with a Department of Commerce watermark and their photo. Questions about whether a person is a real census taker can be directed to 855-562-2020 (press 3 to speak to a local representative).

A census taker will never ask questions about a person’s Social Security number or credit card information, or ask for money.

The U.S. Census Bureau is currently recruiting thousands of temporary jobs related to the census. To apply, visit


Reporter covering city government and economic development in Hermiston, Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo.

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