As Census deadline looms early next year, state committee hires a director

Seven months after Nevada’s Complete Count Committee was announced and four months before Nevadans will be asked to participate in the 2020 census, the state has a director for Census outreach — Kerry Durmick.

Durmick, who worked for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and has worked as a deputy organizing director and lead researcher for the Nevada Democratic Party, was introduced Tuesday during the monthly Complete Count Committee meeting. Gov. Steve Sisolak established the committee in April by an executive order to oversee all outreach and coordination between public and private sector organizations to encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

“I’d like to thank these 10 Nevadans who made the commitment to ensuring that every resident of our state is counted in the 2020 Census,” Sisolak said when announcing the group. “At stake this census are hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding and fair and equitable representation in Congress and the state legislature for the next decade.”

Officials with the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor, as well as several members of the committee and Durmick herself, did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Nevada Independent on Tuesday afternoon about the announcement, including whether census outreach efforts and spending are on pace as the count draws near.

Tuesday’s meeting included discussions about different aspects of the preparations for the 2020 census, including how many temporary workers are still needed around the state for the count. The committee reported that most counties were close to capacity except Nye, Washoe, and Clark, which each had lined up a little more than 50 percent of the workers needed.

Changes that have been made for the upcoming census compared to years past include offering the census in 16 different languages, an improved focus on tribal communities and reaching out to the homeless population. Issues that came up in the past census, such as missing smaller, rural communities, were addressed and will be closely followed.

Durmick was most recently the director of grants and Reno-based regional representative for Cortez Masto — a position she has held since January 2017. Before her work with the Nevada Democratic Party leading up to the 2016 election, Durmick worked for American Bridge researching political candidates and was a field organizer for President Obama’s campaign in 2012.

The statewide coordinator position, which offers staff support for the Complete Count Committee and subcommittees, lasts through April 2020 and was advertised as having a negotiable salary of $80,000. Other duties include working with the governor’s office and state agencies as well as local complete count committees to reach hard-to-count-communities. 

Lawmakers approved spending $5 million to support outreach and education activities ahead of the Census — more than five times what was approved in the last Census. It was not immediately clear how much of the allocation has been spent.