Provo, Orem and Utah County have bested Salt Lake City, West Valley City and Salt Lake County in a showdown on who could get the greatest increase in residents filling out the 2020 Census.

On June 1, Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and Orem Mayor Richard Brunst launched a fun but fierce competition inciting a month-long series of North vs. South events. They wanted to make sure their citizens knew the importance of being counted in the 2020 Census.

The numbers show it was Utah County’s game.

Utah County had a 1.4% increase, Provo a 1.4% and Orem a 1.3% increase. The total average increase for the south was 1.36%.

Salt Lake County’s numbers show the area increased by 1.1%, Salt Lake City increased by 1.1% and West Valley City finished at a 1.2% increase. The total average increase for the north was 1.13%

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson expressed appreciation to all residents who participated and graciously congratulated the winning county and all competing cities.

“I want to congratulate Utah County, both Orem and Provo, for winning the Census Challenge. Thank you to West Valley City, Salt Lake City, and Utah Community Action for the partnership during the month of June,” Wilson said.

Her concluding message was directly to citizens, “Lastly, you matter. Be counted!”

Orem Mayor Richard Brunst said he was proud of the way residents stepped up and he believes it will be reflected in the number of benefits in the future.

“I am grateful for so many residents who have taken it upon themselves to complete the census. You are not only benefiting your community, you are benefiting your posterity. It is true what they say, all genealogists eventually come to their census,” Brunst said.

Originator of the campaign, Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said the numbers in the census will make a difference in the city’s future.

“Competition is always a fun way to encourage participation, but the real winners are the citizens who make sure they’re counted,” Kaufusi said. “With the census, every citizen can directly and positively impact the amount of annual federal funding their community will receive from the $675 billion destined for schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other programs.”

The initial challenge goal was to increase participation by 5%. While proud of the 1.36% increase, all remain committed to continuing community education efforts through the Oct. 31 deadline.

“I encourage everyone to take 10 minutes to fill out the census questionnaire. It is quick, easy, confidential and very important for the well-being of the county,” Wilson said.

West Valley Councilmember Jake Fitisemanu agreed.

“The census counts us all equally and we don’t want to miss anyone. Counting our diverse and growing population is the challenge for all of us,” Fitisemanu said.

The winning county will receive community service in their local food bank from the other county — with the North coming down South in late August to work at the Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo.

“While Provo may have won this round, Salt Lake City is proud of the work we’ve done to make sure #SLCcounts, particularly among our hard to count communities. While you may soon see me begrudgingly donning a BYU jersey and gladly volunteer at a Utah County food bank, I will take pride in knowing that there’s still time to make sure all or our fabulous Salt Lake City communities are represented, so that vital services are adequately funded,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

Census 2020 is in the last few days of online registering.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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