Infamously known as being the hardest-to-count county in the nation, Assembly member Reginald Bryon Jones-Sawyer, Sr. has come together with local groups and leaders to ensure Los Angeles County is accurately accounted for in the 2020 Census.
Holding a press conference Wednesday, July 24, 2019, outside St. Vincent de Paul Church, Assembly member Jones-Sawyer, Sr. discussed the effect the census will have on California’s governmental power and residents of Los Angeles.
“We were the most undercounted community in the state. That translates to not only money and resources but also political power,” he states of the history and impact, adding, “South Los Angeles cannot afford to lose any resources or political power; in fact, we probably need more so that we can be successful.”
Assembly member Jones-Sawyer, Sr. was accompanied by Kathleen Domingo of St. Vincent de Paul Church, Quintilia Avila, California Complete Count Census 2020, Ely Flores, NALEO Education Fund, Kirk Samuels, Community Coalition, Alejandra Ramirez-Zarae, Advancement Project of California, and Joseph Villela, of Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights (CHIRLA).
Together, the group led a moving press conference focusing on the importance of community involvement to help achieve a complete count. “Most importantly, we have to figure out a way to get in people’s homes, so we can do the count,” Assembly member Jones-Sawyer, Sr. stated. Rather than having federal agents attempt to enter the homes of residents, he suggests using what he calls, “validators,” community leaders who can act as a familiar face with a cultural likeness to help build trust and comfort residents when going door to door for counts.
“What they’re saying in Washington about going out and sending ICE agents to come into your home and arrest your family members, that is devastating,” he declares. He further explained his thoughts on how the leadership in Washington does not want Los Angeles to get a complete count due to the opposition California legislators put forth.
“We’re [California Senate and House Representatives] the ones that will contradict what is going on in Washington, D.C., especially when they’re wrong,” he says of the power the state has in legislation, continuing, “It’s California that’s leading the way in making sure we keep what’s wrong in Washington in check, so we need even more power and money now to combat that.”
California has two Senators and 53 House seats, due to the size and population of the state. However, with inaccurate counts, those numbers are at risk of decreasing.
Not only will the census count affect the power structure of the government, but government funding as well. The state is at risk of losing nearly tens of millions of dollars worth of funding, affecting programs that assist many living in Los Angeles County.
“We’re going to make sure they understand how the census affects the community,” Kirk Samuels of the Community Coalition details referring to federally funded programs that are commonly used among Black and Latino families. “We want to just appeal to them and tell them the importance of it, and we’re going to make sure that we make it as easy as possible for them to fill out the census,” he adds.
With a strong emphasis on sharing correct information, each leader spoke of their intentions to aid in getting a complete vote. Behind Assembly member Jones-Sawyer, Sr. was a group of Validators, all of whom are eager to help make a major change for the future of Los Angeles County.
“I think if we work together, this count will not only go up, but we will show the rest of the country how to do it,” Assembly member Jones-Sawyer, Sr. expressed.
As the conference came to an end, he shared a special message regarding the future leaders of Los Angeles stating, “10 years from now, she’ll still be a young kid, and she’ll still need resources,” he says, pulling aside the youngest of the group of Validators, “that’s why this census count is so important, it’s for her and that’s why we’re here today.”
For more information on the Census 2020, visit census.gov and follow the Instagram account @uscensusbureau.