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DECATUR — Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) has commissioned more than 30 local officials and representatives to serve as a Complete Count Committee to help spread the word about the importance of the 2020 U.S. Census.

“It’s all about two critical parts that can impact our government and society as a whole: funding and representation,” said Johnson, who represents several miscounted and undercounted communities in Georgia’s Fourth District. “The 2020 Census is quickly approaching. The United States’ founders thought this data was so important they mandated it as part of the Constitution, and my office will do everything in its power to make sure the people know how vital this 2020 count is.”

Congressman Johnson hosted sessions on Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 with the census and the complete count committee members. He is currently planning a third session. Some members of the committee include but are not limited to: State Rep. Billy Mitchell; Stonecrest Mayor Pro Tem George Turner (Stonecrest City Council); Clarkston City Manager Robin Gomez; Rockdale County Schools Superintendent Dr. Terry Oats; Rockdale Tax Commissioner Tisa Smart-Washington; Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown and Newton County Commissioner Demond Mason.

Jeff Taylor, who serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Oakhurst Medical Centers, said at the Oct. 15 session that census data plays a major role in drafting proposals for grants from the federal government.

“I thank Congressman Johnson for the opportunity to participate in the dialogue on this very important issue. I now more clearly see the need to ensure that we have an accurate Censes,” said Taylor. “Rest assured, I will be working with our staff and community to help make sure everyone is counted!”

Laura Bertram of the Newton County Family Connection attended the Oct. 1 session.

“We appreciated the invitation to join Rockdale and DeKalb representatives in the census training. Although our counties have different challenges, we share the need to improve the number of respondents, and I was glad to hear of the different ways committees were working,” said Bertram, who is a leading partner in the census count for Newton County. “The numbers that Congressman Johnson’s District Director (Kathy Register) shared will help us all to become more passionate about getting the word out. Let’s not lose any more money.”

For the first time, the census will be digital. Residents will be able respond to the census online, by phone or by mail. Correspondence from the United States Census will be in the mailboxes of GA-04 residents soon. The district covers parts of DeKalb, Gwinnett, Newton and all of Rockdale County.

State Rep. Mitchell, who attended the Oct. 1 session, said he appreciated Johnson working to get everyone on the same page.

“I was grateful to be a part of the Census Complete Count Committee meeting recently held at Congressman Hank Johnson’s office; as it is a fact, that through these collaborative partnerships the U.S. Census Bureau and community can reach the shared goal of counting everyone in 2020,” said Rep. Mitchell. “To that end, I will certainly use the information disseminated, as I know first-hand that resources are not distributed based on need, but rather, based on how many are counted, which is why the Census participation is so significant.”

Rockdale County Tax Commissioner Tisa Smart-Washington, who attended the Oct. 15 session, said the meeting brought home to her just how important the Census is to funding levels.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to play a role in ensuring everyone who calls Rockdale County home is counted. I didn’t realize until the meeting how many areas are affected by Census – from fair housing rates to healthcare options,” said Smart-Washington. “Congressman Johnson pulling together folks from all Rockdale, Newton and DeKalb underscores how important it is that we reach as many people as a possible.”

Rockdale County Chief Magistrate Judge Phinia Aten, who attended the Oct. 1 meeting, is leading the 2020 Rockdale legal Census count.

“Ensuring a complete Census count will be a daunting task for every community but with the proper education, planning and implementation, I am highly optimistic that we can reach 100 percent,” said Judge Aten. “Representative Johnson’s hands-on and collaborative approach sets the proper tone and stage for the committees and chairs to galvanize our residents and leaders to achieve our best count record.”

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Senior Reporter

I've worked in community newspapers for 30 years, including Editor of the Jackson Progress-Argus from 1993-1999. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016. Started as Senior Reporter at the Jackson Progress-Argus in December 2019.

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