FAIR LAWN, NJ - With July 4 in just two days, one of the most patriotic things a person can do is to fill out the census, councilwoman Gail Rottenstrich said.
"It's in the Constitution," she said during an interview this week in her backyard. "It's our patriotic duty."
Rottenstrich, who was wearing a mask and social distancing in her breezy outdoor living space setup, a gift her family put together for her on Mother's Day weekend.
"It's the best way to be counted as a citizen or resident," she said. "Answer the Census, be counted."
More than 90 million households have responded to the 2020 Census, with more than 4 in 5 households doing so online, according to Census.gov. People can still respond online, by phone, or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker at their door. The goal is to get 100 percent participation by August 11. After that, Census takers come to the door.
Census.gov has made it easy to stay up to date with this map of self-response rates from across the United States. It's easy to check Fair Lawn's rate of response and look at surrounding communities, like Glen Rock, who have the highest response rate in the country at the moment.
An accurate count in the 2020 Census could mean more funding for vital services in the community, a chance that comes along only once every 10 years.
Rottenstrich said a proper count affects everything from economic redevelopment to transportation to government representation.
"It's five minutes online," she said. "It's very easy and not invasive."
Counts even affect health care, where hospitals locate and how the health industry settles in areas where services are needed, something the COVID-19 pandemic reminded not just the immediate area, but the world about.
Tomorrow, Rottenstrich's co-chair on the Full Count Committee, former Mayor John Cosgrove will tell us his thoughts on the importance of filling out the Census.