Los Alamos County Councilor and RCLC secretary David Izraelevitz introduces the 2020 Census Complete Count Proposal at Friday’s meeting in Santa Fe. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities meeting in Santa Fe Friday afternoon unanimously approved a 2020 Census Complete Count Proposal introduced by Los Alamos County Councilor and RCLC secretary David Izraelevitz.
Introducing the proposal, Izraelevitz said that with Census 2020 coming up it seemed like an opportunity to find areas where the RCLC could have an impact. He thanked Rio Arriba County for holding a meeting in Alcalde to kick off the Complete Count Committee. He said Los Alamos was invited to participate and that there was a lot of exchange about possible ways to work together.
“The idea of this proposal is that we know that the state has a process for providing a county with some resources for their census counting but we also know that there are certain areas within our RCLC membership that are going to be especially difficult and that maybe they could use some additional resources,” he said.
Izraelevitz said he talked to his Council and asked if Los Alamos could contribute some additional funds that could be used to supplement the state funding. Further discussion resulted in the proposal which he said involves two tasks.
“The first one would be under the auspices of RCLC to facilitate a regional meeting, kind of an extension of what was hosted by Rio Arriba County but larger for all the participants in the RCLC to exchange ideas, to see what might be useful to us. The second task would be to ask those RCLC members that have resources to contribute some funds that would be redistributed to those entities in the RCLC that do not get direct state funding. At this point I can commit to $10,000 that would be directed to the RCLC for redistribution as needed. I think how that would be distributed is something the executive director could work with the different communities to determine the needs,” Izraelevitz said.
He said Los Alamos is very interested in collaborating in other ways with the region.
“We are very fortunate that Los Alamos has a high response rate but we also know that we are stronger if we all work together and specifically things like congressional representation and general regional resources are going to depend on our whole region having a good response,” he said.
Santa Fe City Councilor and RCLC treasurer Peter Ives noted that there may have up to a 20 percent undercount in the 2010 Census.
“Quite frankly that likely translates to many, many millions of dollars our region has not been able to receive or take advantage of because of an undercount. I think anything we can do to make sure we do have accurate counts that eliminate that type of under-reporting, I’m happy to support,” he said.
Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez thanked Izraelevitz noting that the two board members had been talking for some time about the census proposal andf that he was pleased to see it actual come to fruition.
“Thank you very much and we’ll see how we can get the biggest bang for our buck on this and translate that into some actual numbers,” he said.
Espanola City Councilor Peggy Sue Martinez said she also wanted to say thank you to Councilor Izraelevitz, adding that state funding allows for counties to get some extra funds for counting.
“This is something that will help us particularly in our city that has a different dynamic to other cities in the region. I do believe that this is one of the most important initiatives facing the whole region in its entirety. I think that under-counting ourselves at this point is really, really not smart,” she said. “ It’s a different dynamic in Espanola. We also have the two pueblos that border us and we also have a high number of undocumented immigrants. So, I think we have a little bit of a special community with special people that will be a little more difficult to count than everybody else. So definitely any help the City of Espanola could adhere to at this point would be greatly appreciated and we definitely appreciated the initiative from Los Alamos County.”
Santa Fe County Commissioner and RCLC chair Henry Roybal, who is the Complete Count Chair for Santa Fe County, said he also wanted to express his appreciation to Izraelevitz for bring the proposal to the board.
“I definitely want to make sure we work collectively with these efforts. We did have a huge under-count in the last census and I think it equated to about $30,000 per individual. It’s a huge amount of money that our constituents can really benefit from so I really look forward to working on this together so if we can figure out a path forward I am committed to help in any way I can,” he said.
Taos County Commissioner Tom Blankenhorn said when RCLC executive director Eric Vasquez comes to talk to the Taos County Commission the census will be one of the topics he will address to the extent that they would take advantage of it and “get every count that we can”.
Izraelevitz said he knows a lot of members of the RCLC wear multiple hats and have a lot of additional interest but that he thinks the effort can be refined in ways that will be most impactful.
The board voted unanimously to take on the two census tasks and have Vasquez come back to the board with a way that it can accept funds.
“I think if other entities would like to contribute to the kitty, that would be fine too and then continue discussions about how we would distribute these. I don’t want to under-emphasize the importance of the collaborative aspect of what we’re trying to do. Even though we have a lot of differences in our communities there are a lot of similarities in terms of hard to count communities so I think this is a larger issue of process not just a financial side which I obviously support but obviously conversations and communications. Hopefully this will lead to other joint initiatives where we can find common areas of effort,” Izraelevitz said following the vote.