Anti-nuke resolution fails to pass Duluth City Council

An anti-nuke resolution before the Duluth City Council must have appeared to be a slam dunk to supporters. After all, their like-minded peers on the Minneapolis and St. Paul city councils had already long since voted to support the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Back from the Brink, the national advocacy group behind the movement, even issued a news release commending St. Paul for joining left-wing enclaves like Boston, Los Angeles, and Portland.

The City Council of Saint Paul voted unanimously to adopt a Back from the Brink resolution, joining the ever-growing chorus of city councils, nationwide, lending their voice to this campaign! The adoption of this resolution unites the Twin Cities with their call for the United States government to abolish nuclear weapons and to embrace the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 

The anti-nuke resolution seemed to be well on the way to passage in Duluth as well. Seventeen members of groups like Grandmothers for Peace spoke in support of the nuclear weapons ban, dominating the hour-and-a-half discussion. A member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War also weighed in via Zoom.

“We can’t know that this effort will be successful even if the United States adopts this policy,” Dr. Ira Helfand said from his Massachusetts home. “But there’s no reason not to try, because we do know what’s going to happen if we fail.”

The News Tribune pointed out that only one individual in the audience spoke out against the resolution.

“This is a federal issue,” Eric Smith, of Duluth, said. “It is not a state or local issue, contrary to what some believe. I know everyone thinks the world is perfect and we’re not going to get into a nuclear war. But the way to do that is: peace through strength.”

What could go wrong?

Having brought forward the resolution, 3rd District Councilor Roz Randorf said council members represent “the interests of the citizens who elect us, and we advocate for them on issues that matter to them.”

But Council President Janet Kennedy said the nuclear treaty hardly registered with her constituents.

“I’ve heard from maybe a few people,” Kennedy said. “Not to negate the importance of what you’ve brought forward but there’s 17,000 people out there and I’ve heard from may be five.”

Another city councilor raised the question of whether it’s appropriate for local government to attempt to address national and international issues.

At large Councilor Arik Forsman thanked people who had come to speak in support of the resolution Monday night: “I appreciate that. I do, however, have a difference of opinion as to whether this is truly a local issue or not. So, that’s why I won’t be voting in support of this tonight. But I understand where you’re coming from and would be happy to help in other ways.”

In the end, the forces opposed to the city getting involved in the issue brought the city council back from the brink. In a 4-4 vote, members deadlocked on the nuclear disarmament resolution, leaving disappointed supporters to fight another day.