Tom Sawyer, Congressman Who Challenged Census Undercount, Dies at 77


Tom Sawyer, an eight-term Democratic congressman from Ohio whose concern that the 1990 census had missed greater than two million Black Individuals spurred the federal authorities to enhance its subsequent inhabitants counts, died on Could 20 in a nursing facility in Akron. He was 77.

His spouse, Joyce (Handler) Sawyer, mentioned the trigger was Parkinson’s illness.

Mr. Sawyer was chairman of the Home Publish Workplace and Civil Service Subcommittee on Census and Inhabitants when he cited proof of the undercount and urged the Census Bureau to regulate the rely. Performed each 10 years, the rely determines the apportionment of congressional seats and the distribution of billions of {dollars} in federal spending among the many states.

The bureau’s director on the time, Barbara Everitt Bryant (who died in March), had initially beneficial an adjustment regardless of the statistical challenges that that may have entailed. She was overruled, although, by Commerce Secretary Robert A. Mosbacher, who mentioned that whereas it may be potential to make the nationwide rely extra correct, adjusting the native figures on which apportionment was based mostly may truly produce extra miscalculations.

Mr. Sawyer denounced Mr. Mosbacher’s choice as a “gerrymander on a nationwide scale.”

Declaring that he had discovered a “actual consensus that early planning for 2000 will enhance the method,” Mr. Sawyer efficiently prodded Congress to mandate a study by the Nationwide Academy of Sciences of how the bureau may make a extra correct rely.

In 1990, the undercount, which was believed to have shortchanged the nation’s older cities within the Northeast in addition to cities the economic Midwest like Akron, was initially estimated to be as a lot as 2.1 p.c and later revised to about 1.6 p.c. In 2000, with new procedures by the bureau in place, impressed partially by the Nationwide Academy examine, the undercount was mentioned to have been solely about .49 p.c.

Mr. Sawyer served in native, state and nationwide workplace for practically 5 many years. He was a member of the Ohio Home of Representatives from 1977 to 1983, the mayor of Akron from 1984 to 1986, a congressman from northeast Ohio from 1987 to 2003 and a member of the Ohio State Senate from 2007 to 2016.

In Congress, he voted towards the stringent welfare laws (formally the Private Duty and Work Alternative Reconciliation Act) signed into regulation by President Invoice Clinton in 1996. In 2003, he opposed the deployment of American forces to Iraq.

Talking from the Home ground, he additionally scorned the impeachment of President Clinton, famously quoting Sir Thomas Extra, who was executed in 1535 for his non secular beliefs, as saying: “What you’ve gotten hunted me for is just not my actions however for the ideas of my coronary heart. It’s a lengthy highway you’ve gotten opened. God assist the statesmen who stroll your highway.”

Thomas Charles Sawyer was born in Akron on Aug. 15, 1945. His mom, Jean (Galloway) Sawyer, was a hospital dietitian. His father, who was president of a agency that manufactured industrial ventilators, was named Furman, however everybody referred to as him Tom, after the Mark Twain character. The couple determined that since their son would in all probability wind up with the identical nickname, they may as properly title him Thomas.

Mr. Sawyer earned a bachelor’s diploma in English in 1968 and a grasp’s in city schooling in 1970, each from the College of Akron. He began his profession as a trainer in Cleveland earlier than being elected in 1977 to the State Legislature, the place he was instrumental in reforming the reapportioning of legislative districts to curb the affect of partisan politics.

Along with his spouse, he’s survived by his daughter, Amanda Kraus. He lived in Akron.


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