The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

Rock County should be proud.

Amid some of the darkest days of our nation’s history there is a ray of light shining on the county.

The light is the US Census. The-every-ten-year-count of people living in America has been nearly overshadowed, like everything else, by the pandemic.

It’s hard to care how many people live in Beloit or Bayfield when you’re trying to avoid anyone coming within six feet of you.

A wide net of our best neighbors have pulled together in Janesville, Milton, Edgerton, Beloit, Orfordville, and Footville to get the word out. The word that the census matters for all of us.

Organized by the US Census Bureau these local, “Complete Count Committees” have worked since last summer telling anyone who would listen how the census impacts our communities.

Through messages on pizza boxes, at bingo games, and countless other ways the philosophies of Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton are alive again. It takes all of us working for the good of each other to build a democracy.

The Census is about democracy. Our population dictates the number of Congressional representatives. Population is also the key to how billions in federal aid will be carved up in the next ten years. More people means more funding. Fewer people means less funding.

It’s both that simple and that complex.

You should already have your Census form. This year you have three choices. You can answer it online at My2020Census.gov, by calling 1-844-330-2020 (In Spanish at 1-844-468-2020) or wait for a paper questionnaire to be sent to you.

So far, the national online response rate is almost 47%. Wisconsin is at nearly 54% but Rock County is even higher at 57%. On a local level, Milton (63%) and Edgerton (62%) are setting a good pace for the rest of the state to follow. Janesville is just under 59% and Beloit is just over 50%.

Rock County is setting an enviable pace for the rest of the state. The irony is that the Census reporting period didn’t begin until this month and Rock County could end up as number one in the state when the count finishes this summer.

By filling out the Census you are helping yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors. If you’ve lost the invitation you can do it without one.

Fight the frustration of the pandemic by doing something positive. Fill out the census. And if you can do it safely, help someone else do theirs. It will be the best ten minutes of your day.

To paraphrase Tina Turner, right now, even with all the challenges we are facing, Rock County is simply the best.

–Welch is mayor of Milton.

 

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