Karen Polzin is happy a referendum to add fluoride to the Chippewa Falls public water supply was shot down by over a two-to-one margin Tuesday.
“But it’s still just an advisory (vote),” said the fluoride opponent who lives at 405 W. Vine St. The Chippewa Falls City Council will make the final decision on the issue at its session April 20.
So even though the referendum lost 1,293 to 558, or about 70-30 percent, Polzin said she’s going to stay active until April 20. “I’m still going to talk to people and tell them to talk to their alderman,” Polzin said.
The margin of defeat was decisive in each of the city’s seven wards: Ward 1, 79 percent against; Ward 2, 68 percent against; Ward 3, 59 percent against, Ward 4, 71 percent against; Ward 5, 71 percent against; Ward 6, 78 percent against; and Ward 7, 76 percent against.
Some council members, including Ward 5’s Darven Miller, were noncommittal after Tuesday’s results were known. “I’m really in between,” Miller said, saying the reaction he’s heard from his ward is split about 50-50.
Dave Grinnell, the Third Ward council member, last week voiced support for fluoride. But after the vote Tuesday, he said would have a hard time voting for it if the referendum’s margin of defeat was 2-to-1 or more.
“If my ward is strongly opposed to it, then I would basically defer to the advice of my ward,” said Council President Steve Dean of Ward 4. Dean was re-elected to another two-year term on the council on Tuesday.
First Ward council member Maria Kirsch said she would look at the Tuesday’s vote, including the percentage of people voting in her ward. Ward 1 had 202 voters out of an eligible 1,025, for a turnout of just under 20 percent.
“I won’t be making my decision for two weeks,” she said, adding she’s received many phone calls about fluoride.
Asked why she thought the referendum failed, Kirsch said: “There hasn’t been enough tests for or against to support one side or the other. People don’t want to take the chance.”
Greg Hoffman, the Ward 7 council member, said he’s talked to 70 people about the issue. Sixty-eight were against fluoride and two were for, he said.
He said his main concern about the issue was government mandating to the citizens what should be done. “I’m tired of the government . . . telling people, ‘This is what you’re going to do.’ ”
That’s also the main reason Sixth Ward council member Troy Thomas is opposed to fluoride.
“I think that people don’t want anything with big government forcing anything on people,” he said.
Both Thomas and Second Ward council member Dennis Doughty were unopposed in their re-election bids Tuesday.
Doughty was not available for comment after Tuesday’s vote, but said last week he hasn’t decided how he will vote April 20.