The St. Paul DFL has come out in support of the city’s organized trash collection system, endorsing a “yes” vote on the citywide referendum in November.
At a central committee meeting Monday, 87% of attendees voted in support of keeping organized collection, the party announced Wednesday morning.
“I think that for a large part of St. Paul this isn’t an issue, and they want to focus on things that move the city,” St. Paul DFL Chairwoman Beth Commers said in an interview. “There’s a small, vocal group that it feels like they just want to bring us back and hold us back.”
The DFL endorsement adds a partisan element to an issue that has already divided residents and city leaders. St. Paul’s organized trash collection system launched a year ago and spurred a lawsuit from residents who said they should be able to vote on it. They’ll get their chance on Nov. 5, after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in their favor in August.
Council Member Jane Prince, who voted against the city’s trash collection contract in 2017, said in an interview that she spoke at Monday’s meeting in opposition to the DFL taking a stand on the referendum.
“I feel like this is us again putting our thumb on the scale to control the outcome,” said Prince, who was endorsed by the DFL for re-election in November.
Opponents of the city’s trash system have objected to the requirement that every property owner pay for trash collection, and opponents have pointed to the higher hauling costs that some residents now face. They’ve also made an environmental argument, saying the system doesn’t encourage residents to produce less waste.
Supporters have emphasized the positive environmental impact of reducing garbage truck traffic on city streets.
The St. Paul DFL addresses ballot referendums when asked and took up the trash issue after a request from Vote Yes for St. Paul, a group that supports keeping the existing system intact, Commers said.
“The referendum on coordinated collection poses a simple question to St. Paul residents: Are we going to spend money and resources on problems that have already been solved, or are we going to move forward in building an even better city, together?” said Javier Morillo, Vote Yes for St. Paul chairman, in a statement. “The support of the St. Paul DFL shows that residents are ready to answer this question and move on to the things that matter to us.”