A political action committee supporting a ballot measure to add fluoride to Bellingham’s drinking water has raised $169,905 in its campaign, the most spent on a single issue in city history, according to the group’s finance reports.
Bellingham Families for Fluoride received $35,000 from the Washington Dental Service Foundation, as well as $8,500 from the Seattle, Spokane and Mount Baker dental societies in the last few weeks alone.
“A good bit of the money came from physicians and dentists,” said Curt Smith, a retired Bellingham dentist co-chairing the committee. “It’s a no-brainer for health professionals.”
The committee’s campaign war chest easily eclipses previous city elections. In 2003, Mayor Mark Asmundson and challenger Brett Bonner spent more than $127,000 combined.
Money raised by two political action committees organized against the fluoridation proposal pales in comparison. As of now, Citizens Against Forced Fluoride has raised $5,673 and Bellingham Citizens Against Fluoride Tax says the group will raise less than $3,500, according to state filings.
Rainy Fackler-Adams, a fluoride opponent who lost a lawsuit in Whatcom County Superior Court over the initiative, said groups would focus on grass-roots efforts to defeat the ballot measure.
“This weekend, we’re going door-to-door. We’re going to be reaching people on a personal level,” Fackler-Adams said. “People are going to get thrown all that advertising. There’s no way we reach or match that.”
With general election ballots set to be mailed to voters today, much of the pro-fluoride campaign’s money appears to be going toward advertising for the issue.
The campaign spent $60,500 with Paul Kinney Productions of Sacramento, Calif., for “broadcast advertising.” That company also helped produce material for previous fluoridation efforts in Yakima, Wenatchee and Spokane.
Bellingham Families for Fluoride also has purchased television and radio airtime, as well as newspaper advertising, to support its cause, Smith said.
“I’m hopeful,” Smith said of the measure passing. “We’ve gone through this so many times in Bellingham I’m not overconfident. On the balance, I think we’re in good shape.”