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Calexico officials claim census count falls short of city's actual population

April 11, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The city of Calexico has grown by 45 percent since 1990 to 27,109, according to numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That number is 4,000 to 10,000 short, according to members of the Calexico City Council.

Mayor Victor Carrillo puts the actual population of Calexico at nearly 40,000.

"I am very dismayed at the numbers," Carrillo said.

He said he will get together with the rest of the council and representatives in the state Legislature to figure out what recourse Calexico has.

He even mentioned the possibility of a recount.

Councilman Frank Montoya said, "We are way over what people think we are."

Montoya put the actual number at 31,000 or 32,000.

He added: "Whatever they (the census bureau) decide we are, we have to provide services for the citizens."

Councilman John Renison recommended that the city not take an adversarial tact with the Census Bureau but stressed that the numbers were low.

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"We should draft a formal letter to the director of the Census Bureau to explain that we feel something happened."

According to census reports, Calexico's population was 18,633 in 1990 and 14,412 in 1980.

City Manager Richard Inman said if the numbers had been higher for 2000, Calexico could have "picked up another district."

"Census numbers are used to divvy up the county into the five districts," Inman, a former county chief administrator, said.

If Calexico had experienced the population jump officials had expected, representation in District 1 would no longer be sufficient, he said.

"They'd (the county supervisors) have to adjust Districts 5 and 2 to take care of some of the population," Inman said.

An undercount also could mean the city will not get its fair share of state and federal money.

"A number of programs and grants are divided up on a per capita basis," Inman said.

Two programs that he mentioned Monday are those involving parks and library bonds.

Carrillo said he would be disappointed if the city's parks or library system suffered because the census didn't accurately reflect Calexico's population.

City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva said he hopes there is a system in place in 2010 that is "more inclusive."

Last summer he lobbied residents to fill out forms, and along with the City Council made an "effort to educate" the local populace, but he still thinks it's more than possible not everyone filled out a questionnaire.

Inman said it is possible some Calexico residents were "leery" of filling out their questionnaires.

"Although I can't say for sure, some people might not have filled out their questionnaire because of concerns that the information would be kept confidential," Inman said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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