LAWRENCE/MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – Competition is no stranger to the cities of Lawrence and Manhattan, however they typically involve the sports of each city’s university. Now, community members are seeing a different Sunflower Showdown.

Earlier this month, Manhattan Mayor Usha Reddi challenged Lawrence Mayor Jennifer Ananda to see which city could receive the higher census response rate by May 15. Less than a week later, Ananda accepted.

“It’s important for everyone to know that we count in our communities, that every single one of us should respond if we can,” Ananda said.

Both mayors said they hope this friendly competition will increase the response rate of the community members as well as university students who have traveled back home for the remainder of the school year.

The more community members who participate in the census, the more federal funding the city will recieve, Reddi said. This can go towards roads, schools, social services, and other areas of the community.

“Each time somebody doesn’t sign on and take the census we lose about $2,000, and that impacts our schools, our education systems, our transportation system and everything that we know,” Reddi said.

The more members who participate will also reduce the need for in-person, door-to-door census takers, allowing them to social distance during this time, Ananda said.

Currently, Lawrence has a self-response rate of 57.1%, shortly followed by Manhattan’s 55% rate, according to the United States Census Bureau.

The inspiration for this challenge came from another state, and was brought forward by Manhattan’s Census 2020 Task Force, Reddi said.