Reprinted from Rotary Press; Club #42 Rotary International District 7150

Tory Russo is the City of Syracuse Census 2020 Coordinator

In 2010, the population of Syracuse was 145,170 with a media age of 30. As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, our nation gets just one chance each decade to count its population. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and take place every 10 years. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives (a process called apportionment) and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.

The next census in 2020 will require counting an increasingly diverse and growing population of around 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units. To get an accurate count, the Census bureau must build an accurate address list of every housing unit, maximize self-response to the census, and efficiently follow up with those who do not respond.

In the years leading up to 2020, research was conducted in four areas that focus on the major cost drivers of the census:

  1. Using the internet to increase self-response
  2. Using existing government data sources to answer census questions and reduce follow-up workload
  3. Automating operations to increase productivity and reduce staff and offices
  4. Using existing maps and address to reflect changes rather than walking every block in every neighborhood in the country.

The decennial census is the largest mobilization and operation conducted in the United States and requires years of research, planning, and development of methods and infrastructure to ensure an accurate and complete count.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh appointed Tory Russo to the position of Census Coordinator for the United States Census Bureau 2020 Census count. Russo is the city’s point person in coordinating with the Census Bureau, state and local government, as well as with private and nonprofit organizations, volunteer groups, and other community organizations which represent people impacted by the census.

“The census occurs just once a decade, but it has a daily impact on the City of Syracuse and every single person lives here,” said Mayor Ben Walsh. “The census results play a large and lasting role in the allocation of federal dollars, ensuring our fair share of federal funding for schools, hospitals, and housing. Much depends on getting a complete and accurate count.”

The Census Bureau has announced changes to the count procedures in 2020, including the ability to respond online, by phone, and by mail. According to the bureau, it will also “use data the public has already provided to reduce follow up visits,” which indicates less door-to-door counting by Census representatives.

“The changes in the 2020 census mean we need to do everything we can to educate people about the process and the importance of being counted. Tory has worked directly with many of the organizations already engaged in the census and during the past year she’s become very familiar with neighborhoods all across the city,” said Mayor Walsh. “This is a critically important position for our community, and Tory has the right skills and experience for the work.”

Russo has served as mayor Walsh’s public Information Officer since January 2018. Before entering public service, she worked with PEACE Inc. and with Hopeprint in communications and youth programming positions, respectively. She is a 2016 graduate of Syracuse university with a dual major in Magazine journalism from S.I. Newhouse School of public Communications and International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship. Russo transitioned tot he full-time Census Coordinator position in April. Initial funding for the new position is being provided by a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation.

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