Mpls. garbage divides mayoral hopefuls

Minneapolis mayor
Five DFL candidates for Minneapolis mayor, including Mark Andrew, Betsy Hodges, Gary Schiff, Jackie Cherryhomes and Don Samuels, left to right, debate Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. They held another debate on Wednesday, April 3, 2013.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

The candidates for mayor of Minneapolis are divided over whether to allow Hennepin County to burn more garbage at a facility near Target Field.

Candidates Betsy Hodges, Gary Schiff and Cam Winton argued at a debate Wednesday night that the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center poses health risks.

Winton said the county and the company that operates the burner shouldn't even have made the request.

"They're coming and they're asking to put junk in our children's lungs, before they've even completed the study to see how much junk they're asking. That's insulting. And as mayor, I'd go tell them to pound sand," Winton said.

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But candidate Mark Andrew, who used to serve on the county board, countered that turning garbage into electricity is good for the environment.

"This is the biggest and most successful alternative energy project in the history of the state," Andrew said. "That facility generates 30 megawatts of electricity, and it displaces coal, fuel oil, natural gas and nuclear."

Former Council member Jackie Cherryhomes joined Andrew in supporting the burner, arguing it's better than a landfill.

The City Council has delayed its decision on boosting the burner's capacity while the state studies the environmental impact. Council member Don Samuels, who's also running for mayor, said Minneapolis should base its ruling on the study, rather than "political expediency."