Step up and be counted

Despite Trump-era fears, Jersey City mayors urge participation in Census 2020

From left to right: former mayors L. Harvey Smith, Gerald McCann, Joseph Rakowski, current Mayor Steven Fulop, and former mayors Marilyn Roman, Jerramiah Healy and Bret Schundler.
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From left to right: former mayors L. Harvey Smith, Gerald McCann, Joseph Rakowski, current Mayor Steven Fulop, and former mayors Marilyn Roman, Jerramiah Healy and Bret Schundler.

To prepare for Census Day this April, seven Jersey City mayors recently came together at City Hall to urge participation in the 2020 Census.

Current Mayor Steven Fulop, joined by former mayors Gerald McCann, Marilyn Roman, Joseph Rakowski, Bret Schundler, L. Harvey Smith, and Jerramiah Healy, called on all residents to stand up and be counted, noting that accurate census information can lead to more federal funding and representation.

“The census impacts every aspect of our city and our community – from emergency response, to schools, to our congressional districts,” Fulop said. “An inaccurate count of Jersey City’s residents in the past has led to unfair and unequal political representation and inequitable access to vital public and private resources. That’s why we’re coming together – to make sure we are fully counted, every single resident.”

According to the city, for every resident not accounted for, the city will lose approximately $15,000 in federal funding over the next 10 years.

Schundler said that an accurate count would also instill a sense of pride across the city if it leads to Jersey City to being named the largest municipality in the state.

“It’s hard to imagine that our pride will increase more than it already is, but I really think we’ll have a little bit of extra swagger when we are not just the best, but the biggest,” he said.

According to census.gov, as of 2018 Jersey City’s population was estimated at 265,549, while Newark’s is currently estimated at 282,090.

Census 101

As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Census is conducted once every 10 years to count the nation’s population.

The census asks residents a series of questions, including how many people live in a household, as well as the age, gender, and race of each person.

The data collected is used to distribute more than $800 billion in federal, state, and local money for programs like Medicaid, Head Start, WIC, SNAP, housing vouchers, educational grants, Community Block Grants, and Title 1 among communities throughout the nation.

It also determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Some of you probably don’t remember when Jersey City had its own congressional district,” Smith said. “We lost congressional representation when we lost population, and it is time to bring that back.”

In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will collect answers through a paper questionnaire, via the internet, or over the phone.

Beginning in March, the Census Bureau will mail a unique user ID to households across the country.

This will allow the heads of households to complete the form online, by mail, or by phone ahead of Census Day, on April 1, 2020.

Fear not

Under the Trump Administration, immigrants have legitimate fears. The mayors sought to alleviate those fears.

“We have to keep working, and we need to be able to accept all of the people who are here: whether they are citizens, are not citizens, whether they were born here, or [if] they were born somewhere else,” said former mayor and current Board of Education Trustee Marilyn Roman.

Under the Trump Administration, a citizenship question to count illegal immigrants was almost included in the census, but it was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Smith said those new to the country and the city are fearful of retribution if they fill out the census, but he urged those who attended the Nov. 13 event to encourage everyone to participate.

“There’s no fear in filling out a census form,” Smith said. “There’s a lot going on in this country right now, but that’s nothing to fear.”

Fulop said that in the past, Jersey City was undercounted in part because members of the city’s immigrant communities did not fully participate.

He noted that in order to help assuage fear, the city is working with leaders in immigrant communities to help educate residents about the census and explain that there is nothing to  fear.

Currently, there are temporary part-time positions as census takers available that pay from $17.50 to $22 per hour.

To apply go to https://tinyurl.com/census2020JC

For more information on the Census, go to https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys.html

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.