Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, Fresno County Board of Supervisors Chair Judy Case and Fresno City Council members today launched a public awareness campaign urging all city and county residents to participate in the upcoming 2010 census.

The local leaders said the campaign will emphasize the importance of a complete count to ensure that the city and county receive their fair share of more than $400 billion in federal funds distributed to cities and counties each year.  The campaign is particularly important because the U.S. Census Bureau has designated Fresno as a “hard-to-count” community based on previous census data.

The campaign will include a series of public service announcements that will run on local television and radio stations.  Mayor Swearengin has recorded PSAs in both English and Spanish as part of the campaign.

In addition, the County of Fresno will distribute an informational flyer published in four languages — English, Spanish, Lao and Hmong — that will be mailed on February 19 and 22 to more than 130,000 Fresno County households assuring citizens their legal status and public assistance will not be changed as a result of their answers to the questions. 

The flyer will also announce the merger of the Departments of Employment & Temporary Assistance and Children & Family Services as the Department of Social Services.

“Now, more than ever before, we need to ensure that all our communities are represented and fully counted,” Mayor Swearengin said.  “It is crucial that a complete count of our community is obtained to ensure that we receive federal funding for schools, hospitals, roads, housing and a wide array of other programs and services that benefit local residents and businesses.”

“The residents of Fresno County need to be reminded their right to privacy is protected and by participating in the Census we will potentially increase our ability to provide services to our most  needy families,” Supervisor Case said.  “The Library system is set to become Census Questionnaire Assistance Centers in 25 branch locations throughout the County.” 

Fresno City Council member Blong Xiong, co-chair of the Fresno Complete Count Committee, said, “The Census 2010 has to be our main priority in our efforts in the next several months.  How effective we are this effort will determine the type of funding that we as a community receive for the next 10 years.”

“I want to commend Mayor Swearengin for taking the historic step of recording public service announcements in both English and Spanish,” said Maria Gutierrez, vice president and general manager of Univision Fresno, the lead media partner for the campaign.  “These announcements, as well as the county’s efforts, recognize the diversity of our region and are important steps in making sure that we are doing everything we can to reach as many people as possible for this important effort.”

The mail-back response rate in Fresno County for the Census in 2000 was just 69% – meaning nearly 1/3rd of our population did not return their census form.  For every uncounted person, the Fresno area misses out on approximately $1,400 per year in federal funding.

Census questionnaires will be delivered or mailed to households by U.S. mail in March 2010. 

With only 10 questions, the 2010 Census questionnaire is one of the shortest questionnaires in history and should take about 10 minutes to complete.  Census workers will visit households that do not return questionnaires.

According to the U.S. census, all U.S. residents must be counties – people of all races and ethnic groups, both citizens and non-citizens.  By law, the Census Bureau cannot share an individual’s census questionnaire with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement entities.

More information on the 2010 Census is available at