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Council member encourages county to participate in Census

Posted on September 23, 2019

By Caitlan Butler
Staff Writer

El Dorado City Council member Willie McGhee brought his Census campaign to the Union County Quorum Court last week, asking for the county’s help in engaging the community to participate in the 2020 Census.

“We need to get everybody involved,” McGhee said. “The 2020 Census is something where everybody can get involved, whether you’re young, old, rich, poor, black, white – everyone can be involved in this movement.”

McGhee has been working to engage El Dorado residents in preparation for next year’s Census since 2018, when the City Council formed a Complete Count Committee at the urging of the United States Census Bureau. McGhee leads the Complete Count Committee.

At Thursday’s Quorum Court meeting, McGhee explained to county officials how important the Census is to the city and county’s continued progress.

“This is so important to us,” he said. “We get a lot of things … for our jails, street, hospitals, schools, community projects, bridges, roads – I mean, it benefits more than we realize.”

The Census will determine the amount of Congressional representation Arkansas receives after 2020 as well as the amount of federal and state funds the county and city will be eligible for. Data from the Census is also used by states to draw congressional district boundaries and to determine voting precincts.

McGhee said the Census’ ability to preserve history is also personally important to him.

“It also lets us know in 2019, if your great-great-grandkids want to see if you existed – they can track it, they can make a family tree of their relatives. Even what their relatives were doing in that period,” he said. “For me, that’s very important, because I’m adopted and I don’t know my history. I don’t know my family history; I can only go back so far, from what I was told. But my kids and my grandkids, if they wanted to know what their grandfather was doing in 2019, there’s a record so they can see I existed.”

Union County’s population has steadily decreased, according to the United States Census Bureau, since the last Census was taken in 2010; then, Union County’s population was measured at 41,639 people. As of July 1, 2018, the population was 39,126, a drop of 6% since 2010.

El Dorado’s population has also declined, going from 18,884 counted in the 2010 Census to approximately 17,932 as of July 1, 2018, according to the Census Bureau. That is a drop of 5.1%.

Many local officials do not believe our local population was accurately counted in 2010.

“I truly believe we missed a lot of people and there wasn’t an accurate count,” McGhee said. Loftin and former El Dorado Mayor Frank Hash made similar comments last year when a Census report showed a decline in population since the 2010 count.

The goal of the local Complete Count Committee is to ensure that every resident of El Dorado and Union County is counted in next year’s Census. McGhee said he is willing to speak anywhere to encourage participation.

“You’d be surprised at the energy and excitement … we’ve got young people in our city and county that want to do things – we just have to ask them,” he said. “And I promise you that they’re more committed than some of us older, white-haired folks up here.”

Low funding in the early and mid-years of the current decade have caused the Census Bureau to cancel two of three planned trial runs for next year’s count and dramatically curtail the third.

McGhee said a Census representative should visit the region soon to offer employment for the 2020 Census. To be eligible for a job with the Census Bureau, one must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Social Security number and be a U.S. citizen.

“They’re hiring for the door knockers, the people who go and knock on the doors,” McGhee said, referring to the in-person count that takes place with homes that do not answer the written or online Census questionnaires.

To learn more about the Complete Count Committee, contact Willie Mc-Ghee at 870-314-1441. To learn more about the 2020 Census, visit

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or