"Local politics aren't partisan."
I'm sure many of us have heard this cliche before. But is it true?
In Stamford, at least when it comes to bagged-leaf vs. loose-leaf pickup, the answer is a fairly clear "yes."
To recap what transpired:
1) In May of this year, the Board of Representatives made an unallocated cut of about $1.4 million to the Mayor's budget for FY 18-19.
2) The Mayor implemented the Board's cut, and, to save money, shifted from loose-leaf pickup, where the city collects the leaves pilled up on residents' properties, to bagged leaf pick-up, where residents are responsible for bagging their own leaves, and the city picks up the bags.
3) The city sent a brochure to residents informing them of their new obligation to bag leaves.
4) There was a handshake agreement that if the Board of Reps would look at raising fees on services like downtown garage parking and train station parking, loose-leaf pickup could continue (at least for this year).
5) The city sent another brochure to residents, saying never-mind, kindly disregard our previous brochure, loose-leaf pickup can continue this year.
6) The Board of Reps adopted an ordinance mandating residents be allowed to do bagged-leaf pickup or loose-leaf pickup (in this year and all years moving forward).
7) The Mayor vetoed the ordinance.
8) The Board of Reps failed to override the Mayor's veto. Accordingly, while loose-leaf pickup will be provided this year, it could be taken away in future years.
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Below is a map of Stamford broken down by Board of Representative district, which depicts each district's vote on the override of the Mayor's veto. Blue means both Reps in that district voted to override (remember, there are two Reps per district); purple means the Reps in that district split their vote; red means both Reps failed to vote in favor of the override (it's worth noting that, to override a veto, the Board needs 27 yeas, so if a Rep is absent or excused, that is treated as a "nay" vote).
Do you notice a trend?
The Republican vote was 7-2 in favor of overriding, and the Democratic vote was 18-13 likewise in favor. So there was some predictability on how a Rep would vote based merely on party affiliation.
But more salient appears to the geographic area each Rep represents.
In parts of Stamford where there are less leaves, the Reps generally voted to uphold the Mayor's veto. Reps with neighbors who have leaves on their properties generally voted against the Mayor. The was particularly true when looking at Democratic votes; for example, even Rep. Lion (D-19, North Stamford), who had previously voted with the Mayor on every vote we've recorded as significant here at Team Stamford (other than the unanimous vote on denying Life Time Fitness their text change), voted to override the Mayor's veto.
There are lots of large properties with lots of leaves in Rep. Lion's district, so this vote seems a smart one politically.
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Does this mean there's no relationship between party affiliation and votes on municipal affairs. Of course not. On issues with more ideological salience, like raising taxes for example, party still serves as a pretty good indicator of how any given Representative will vote.
But on the more parochial issues, however, sometimes it's best to look to see if the leaves are changing colors to know how your Representative will vote.