Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson joined 163 Republican and Democratic Mayors of the US Conference of Mayors recently to issue a stern letter urging U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to consider three specific areas of concern to meet the shared goal of a full, fair and accurate 2020 Census.
As planning swings into action, Mayors urged Secretary Ross to consider: adequate funding; qualified Census Bureau leadership; and a full rejection of untested questions that threaten to undermine census preparations and accuracy.
Mayors of both parties have long contested previous censuses that have undercounted cities – leaving federal investments well below where they should be, given cities are 90 percent of the country’s GDP, and hold 85 percent of the population and 86 percent of the nation’s jobs.
Mayor Freeman-Wilson said, “The city of Gary is directly affected by census results – that’s why I’m joining mayors of both parties two years out to ensure that the 2020 census counts every person residing in cities, including Gary, accurately and effectively. I want to be sure the plan set in place for the upcoming decennial census ensures our communities are fully and fairly represented – which won’t happen absent an accurate count. I urge Secretary Ross to ignore politically motivated questions being posed already to undercut the census. Let’s get ahead of the issue and start now to guarantee an accurate count of all people in the United States as the Constitution dictates and as Gary’s economy demands.”
A successful decennial census is essential to the funding and effective governing of municipalities like Gary. “Census results determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives, are used to draw political districts at federal, state and local levels, and affect the distribution of billions of dollars of federal funding annually to local communities for infrastructure and vital services like hospitals and schools.
An inaccurate census leads to underrepresentation and fewer dollars for many of our most vulnerable communities,” the letter reads.