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How every St. Paul ward voted on the trash-collection question

After all the votes were totaled up, the hopes of those wanting to toss out St. Paul’s citywide organized trash-collection system were thrown in the city-provided garbage cart.

The vote wasn’t particularly close: 62.5 percent of voters participating in Tuesday’s ballot question voted in favor of hanging on to the city-organized trash collection system implemented by the St. Paul City Council in 2017. Supporters of keeping the system were a majority in six of St. Paul’s seven wards, with high the high-turnout third and fourth wards providing a big share of the “yes” votes.

Votes in favor of organized trash collection by St. Paul ward
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State

Opposition to St. Paul’s system in the form of “no” votes on the measure was not as intense. “No” got its largest number of supporters in Ward 3, the ward with the highest turnout overall.

Votes against organized trash collection by St. Paul ward
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State

Comparing the number of “yes” votes to the number of “no” votes by ward, organized-trash supporters won in every St. Paul ward except for Ward 7 on the city’s east side, where opponents of the system beat out supporters by 311 votes.

Trash vote margin by St. Paul ward
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State
‘Yes’ and ‘no’ votes on St. Paul trash referendum by ward
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/06/2019 - 11:57 am.

    I think we can call this a landslide and move on. Obviously this “controversy” was a tad overblown for some reason.

    • Submitted by lisa miller on 11/06/2019 - 05:51 pm.

      Except that either way, they were stuck with that vendor and were told if they didn’t take it, taxes would go up. Good idea that was poorly planned.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/07/2019 - 05:40 am.

        That just goes to show that the entire referendum was a giant waste of time and money.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/07/2019 - 07:47 am.

        Sure but it’s probably easier to fix problems than repeal the entire program, if you’re not happy with your service, complain about the service, don’t try to repeal the entire program. Obviously more folks are satisfied than not.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 11/07/2019 - 07:51 am.

        Yes – it was a real no-win situation. I bet plenty of people voted “Yes” not because they like the new system, but rather out of the specter of the tax increase which was bandied about every chance by the “Vote Yes” people.

        And now the trash haulers have absolutely no incentive to improve their very poor service (with winter coming on and more snow for them to miss pickups over).

        • Submitted by Steve Subera on 11/07/2019 - 11:11 am.

          It was a strange win-win for me.

          My service has been fine and originally I was going to vote yes when it looked like voting no would put the entire system into chaos. I was going to vote yes even though I disagreed with the city rejecting the petition and wished the city would have figured out that the big haulers were just going to buy out the small ones, effectively giving the them a sweet deal.

          I was disappointed with the mayor’s property tax threat with no discussion of other possibilities. It seemed obvious what he was doing. I checked on my rates and they would have gone down if I was billed through property taxes. The mayor’s actions put me in the no vote category. And then when a large hauler backed the yes vote, it seemed like that was another reason for me to vote no.

          I didn’t have any allegiance to the no vote group, but I could have my cake and eat it too. No I didn’t approve of many of the city’s actions and I wanted to tell them that, but my organized trash wasn’t really in any jeopardy.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/07/2019 - 12:39 pm.

          And again, voting no would not have given them any extra incentive.

          Given that all the yes council members got easily re-elected and that a no member is getting replaced with a yes, I think most people just thought the whole referendum was a dumb waste of time. If the no group had been held to account for all their falsehoods, it would have been an even bigger blowout.

    • Submitted by Andrew Usher on 11/11/2019 - 10:35 am.

      Break down demographics of these wards, The “Yes” vote was in part orchestrated around helping the lower median household and reducing trucks on the street. When you look parallels between the vote and things like diversity, middle class, 1st generation residents, etc. The “yes” vote supported the upper class in the west side, the lower class in the middle, and was unsupported by the middle class on the east side.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/08/2019 - 09:07 am.

    Given the fact that the average St. Paul resident was paying more for their garbage hauling before the program was “organized” compared to cities who are organized, these “free” market anxieties more less collapse. This idea that big haulers will crush the little guys and run up the costs would make sense were it not for the fact that this hasn’t actually happened in organized cities. Unless the contracts are permanent and will NEVER be negotiated again, the city has enough leverage to negotiate adjustments. St. Paul isn’t experimenting with something that’s never been done anywhere before, the organized model is a very successful model.

  3. Submitted by Andrew Usher on 11/11/2019 - 10:31 am.

    Dig into the demographics on this:!median-income

    Folks will point to the “No” vote as the bitter, single family house owning, middle/upper middle class, low density diversity voting areas. But actually, my Ward (7) was the only one to vote mostly “No” and we have more 1st generation, diverse, lower median income (less than the two highest “yes” voting wards), that the Mac Groveland/Summit/Highland, etc. neighborhoods who largely voted yes. The difference, voter turn out, why? Not sure. But make no mistake, this wasn’t a vote for the less fortunate who need a program. It was a vote of the more affluent, who have the money, want their neighborhood utopia free of more large trucks on their street.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/11/2019 - 12:45 pm.

      One of the reasons for enacting the program and voting yes was that a lot of people in lower income areas could not get service from any haulers, or had very few options and paid more than those in more affluent areas. This was why groups like ISAIAH pushed so hard for the yes campaign. That was a consideration for me even though I live in HIghland. The “utopia” of fewer trucks was also a consideration because of the environmental impact and damage to roads.

      So make no mistake, this was a movement by the same bitter cranks who oppose any progress in St. Paul. The No campaign was based on outright falsehoods. Why their lies did better in very low turnout areas is a good question, but the idea that organization collection and the yes vote is some kind of rich vs poor situation is nonsense.

  4. Submitted by Tarrance Sullivan on 03/24/2020 - 09:05 pm.

    The haulers must be very, very happy with their recession-proof contract! Residents can’t cancel service to save money, even if unemployed. Any delinquent payment goes onto their property taxes.

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