Durham-Dover-Newmarket, NH - Census Challenge Kick Off Announced - 1st Such Contest in History of the U.S. Census

Durham-Dover-NewmarkeT square off in 2010 Census Challenge

On Friday, March 12, 2010 at 2:00 PM, Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig, Dover City Manager J. Michael Joyal, and Newmarket Town Administrator Edward Wojnowski held a joint press conference at the Dover South End Fire Station on Durham Road in Dover to issue a 2010 Census mail participation rate challenge. A Durham fire truck and Dover fire truck were squared off as part of the press kick off.

This friendly competition is an effort to encourage residents of the Town of Durham, City of Dover, and the Town of Newmarket to mail back their 2010 Census forms upon receipt and improve their Census 2000 mail participation rates.

The community that boasts the best mail participation will enjoy a visit from the two trailing city or town administrators who will roll up their sleeves and scrub clean one of the winning community’s fire trucks. Town Administrator Selig presented the Newmarket and Dover managers with shorts and buckets so they will be prepared to wash Durham’s fire truck when Durham prevails! Administrator Selig likewise received a bucket and broom from the competing managers. In addition, all three Towns signed a proclamation kicking off the challenge. To read the challenge, click HERE.

Mailing back a form ensures an accurate count and lowers the cost of the 2010 Census by reducing the number of census workers who must go door-to-door to collect census data. About $85 million is saved for every one percent increase in mail participation.

Key story points follow: 

Durham,Dover, and Newmarket Issue Census 2010 Challenge

Durham  – The top administrators of  Durham, Dover, and Newmarket announced Friday they are challenging one another in a contest to raise public awareness and participation in the 2010 Census. The goal is to educate residents about the importance of returning Census forms by mail and to boost overall compliance.

Durham Administrator Todd I. Selig, Dover City Manager J. Michael Joyal, and Newmarket Town Administrator Edward Wojnowski declared the challenge during a press conference today at the South End Fire Station in Dover. The three administrators explained the rules of the contest: The two communities that trail behind in public participation will have to send their administrators to the community with the best percentage to scrub clean a fire truck.

All three administrators accepted the challenge and urged their communities to support the cause by filling out and mailing in Census forms, which will appear in local mailboxes over the next few weeks.

"It’s in both our physical interest and our social interests as communities and a nation to ensure a strong Census response from our residents," Selig said. "So we are adding some excitement to the experience with a city manager to city manager challenge, which to our knowledge is the first in the history of the Census."

Joyal explained that the winner of the contest will be the community with the highest mail-in rate. Joyal added the mail response to the Census diminishes the need for Census workers to visit homes to collect information and provides crucial demographic information about the local communities.

"The community with the highest mail-in participation rate, as of April 16, will be the winning community," Joyal said. "The administrators from the other two communities have offered to come over and help us clean one of our fire trucks and polish it and make it one of the cleanest pieces of apparatus in the Seacoast."

Wojnowski said he was looking forward to the challenge and the support of the community in besting Dover and Durham. "May the best commander win," he said.

District 3 Executive Councilor Beverly Hollingworth attended the press conference and urged other communities to take up the challenge.

"I’m thrilled this is taking place," Hollingworth said. "I’m going to try and get the rest of my district to get involved and do the same." Leslie Hoyt from the U.S. Census Bureau was also on hand and reminded people that mail-in participation in the Census takes much less time than in previous years.

"The Census Bureau is thrilled that the three communities have created this challenge and we just want to say its 10 minutes, 10 questions, mail it back," Hoyt said.

Cynthia Copeland of the Strafford Regional Planning Commission said she was pleased Dover, Durham and Newmarket raised the challenge because they represent a sign cant portion of the University of New Hampshire community.

"You’re creating a legacy because for every person who fills out the Census (form), eleven hundred and fifty dollars, on average, comes in every year to the state of New Hampshire and comes to our communities," she said. "You’re creating a legacy for the University of New Hampshire and the communities in which you reside."

Census data are used to reapportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and for the subsequent redistricting of state and local governments. Census data also help to determine how more than $400 billion per year in federal funding is distributed to state and local governments to fund services for people in need. Data from the 2010 Census will help establish locations for hospitals, senior centers and facilities for people with disabilities. Data will also help forecast transportation needs, such as new roads and public transit options.

One of the shortest census forms in U.S. Census history, the 2010 Census form asks 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Responses to the census form should include everyone who will be living at that address as of Census Day, April 1, 2010, the official day of the population count. (It is not necessary to wait until Census Day to return the census form, however. Forms should be returned as quickly as possible.)

Mailing back a form ensures an accurate count and lowers the cost of the 2010 Census by reducing the number of census workers who must go door-to-door to collect census data. About $85 million is saved for every one percent increase in mail participation. Additionally, the Census Bureau saves $60-$70 per census form returned by mail.