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Bayside census filing below nat’l average

U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (c.) joins City Councilman Dan Halloran (l.) and Kevin Kim to call on northeast Queens residents to fill out and return their census forms. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Nathan Duke

Bayside residents fell just below the national average for filling out census information, but Flushing’s denizens were much less diligent, U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) said last week.

The congressman, who was flanked by the two former rivals of last fall’s fiercely contested City Council race for northeast Queens, called on borough residents to fill out and send in their 2010 census forms during a press conference last Thursday.

Ackerman said the number of forms returned determined how much federal funding the district would receive.

“We live in an interesting community that is very diverse,” Ackerman said in front of his Northern Boulevard office. “We have people from every country in the world in this district. So it’s critically important to get money to pave roads, fix bridges, improve education for our children and provide small business loans. With millions of dollars at stake, we cannot stress enough how important it is for all New Yorkers to participate in the census.”

During the 2000 census, an estimated 55 percent of New Yorkers returned their forms, but only 31 percent of Queens residents sent back their questionnaires.

Census workers said about 45 percent of Bayside residents filled out the census, but only 15 percent of Flushing residents sent back their forms.

An estimated 59 percent of Little Neck and Douglaston residents have turned in their forms.

Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Bayside attorney Kevin Kim, a Democrat who previously worked for Ackerman in community affairs, called on northeast Queens residents to send in the form. The two had faced off in last fall’s contentious Council election.

“Let’s give our children, family and friends the resources they deserve,” said Halloran. “This is probably the most important thing a citizen or non-citizen can do.”

Census questionnaires will continue to be accepted through April 15. More than $400 billion that the federal government gives out to state and local governments is based on population, Ackerman said. The census also determines congressional representation.

An estimated 52 percent of United States residents take part in the census, workers from the study said.

Kim said undocumented workers or illegal aliens need not fear participating in the census because information they provide could not be used against them.

Ackerman said Asians made up an estimated 26 percent of his district, while Latinos added up to 25 percent.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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