Congressman wary of town hall meetings

Aderholt assures Census is safe

By ED HOWELL
Posted 9/10/19

This is Part 2 in a two-part series involving an interview with U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt. U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, urged citizens to participate in next year's 2020 U.S. …

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Congressman wary of town hall meetings

Aderholt assures Census is safe

Posted

This is Part 2 in a two-part series involving an interview with U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt. 

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, urged citizens to participate in next year's 2020 U.S. Census.

"Rest assured, your information will be safe with the Census takers," he said.  

Aderholt spoke Thursday in an interview with the Daily Mountain Eagle, saying the process will be safe to protect private information. 

"It is important," he said. "The State of Alabama is allocated a number of congressional seats based on our population. There is only 435 congressional seats in the entire country. Those are reapportioned according to the population shifts every 10 years." 

He said the 2020 Census will be the count taken to determine where those population shifts are. 

"First of all, preliminary Census information has shown that Alabama, while it has grown, the growth has maybe not been at the national average," he said. "That would put us in the place of maybe losing a congressional seat. That is hard to say at this point," due to the preliminary nature of the estimates before the actual count. 

"I am of the opinion if people are actually counted in the State of Alabama, we will maintain our congressional seats as we have them now," he said, noting the state has had seven congressional seats since the 1960s. 

Aderholt said new jobs continue to be reported across the state all the time. "We're growing as a state, but if we don't count the people who live here, it doesn't do any good."

He pointed to the money the state gets back from the federal government, which is raised from tax dollars the average citizen sends to the government. 

"I've heard the average being between $1,500 and $1,600 a year that comes back to the State of Alabama per every individual who is counted," he said. "So we have to make sure we count those individuals." 

Aderholt said while it is proper to make sure Census workers have the right credentials and identification, the process will be "very safe" in protecting information.

"I know a lot of people think if they disclose this information to the Census taker, who will find that information out," he said. "It carries a very stiff penalty if the Census worker or anyone discloses that information, up to five years in the penitentiary and/or a $250,000 fine, so it is very safe." 

Aderholt said the process will be easy, as this is the first time that one can take a smart phone or computer to answer the Census questions. 

At the same time, paper Census forms will be available as some people "don't feel comfortable on the internet or doing it on the smart phone, so they have that option," Aderholt said. "And obviously, we have some in the older generation who are not comfortable using a computer to that extent. So the paper will be there for them as well."

The congressman said, "I would encourage everybody to tell their neighbors, their friends and their family to make sure the count in 2020 is of utmost importance." 

Town hall meetings now 'media spectacle' 

Asked why he doesn't hold more town meetings, Aderholt said he prefers to meet people one on one about issues. 

"What you find in the polarizing political atmosphere you have today, you have groups who use some of these meetings just for the purpose to try to exploit particular issues," he said, adding the groups are only interested in their own issue. "Sometimes they come out from other parts of the state, and I've even heard of people being bused in, and they really try to make a media spectacle of the situation." Sometimes local people who need help or want to ask a question don't even get a chance to be involved as a result. 

He said that he has an "open door policy" to meet with anyone whatever issue, legislation or personal federal benefit problem that they have. "I'm happy to meet with them," noting he would meet in his office with anyone. When he is in Washington, a list of those people is kept and they reached out to again to see if they want to meet with the congressmen. 

Each congressional office also has a staff of aides, such as Paul Housel in Jasper, to work on some problems for constituents. 

He urged anyone wanting to discuss an issue to call his downtown Jasper office upstairs in the Carl Elliott Building (Walker County Board of Education) at 205-221-2310. They can also arrange a meeting on his website at aderholt.house.gov.