FARMINGTON — Those who think fluoride is a done deal should think again.
On Thursday, Davis County commissioners approved a resolution which places the fluoride issue back on the 2004 ballot.
Davis County voters approved placing fluoride in the water in the 2000 election, but the issue hasn’t been out of the limelight since, as those opposed to water fluoridation have continued to campaign against the substance.
As expected, commissioners took the issue up before a full house, including those in favor of and those opposed. But a Davis County Sheriff’s deputy in attendance, didn’t have to quell any disputes.
The resolution passed by county commissioners asks, “Should fluoride continue to be added to the water system in Davis County?” This time though, Woods Cross voters will be exempted. In 2000, voters there decided the city’s water should not be fluoridated and the decision was upheld by the courts, even though the election was a countywide decision.
The question of whether Woods Cross should be included in the debate became a major issue on Tuesday. David Irvine, attorney for Utahns for Better Dental Health — Davis, wrote a letter to county attorney Mel Wilson complaining of advice from the county attorney’s office to exclude Woods Cross from the vote. “If the Davis County Commission wishes to revote fluoridation, the only statutory authority it has to call for any election mandates that such an election be countywide,” Irvine wrote. “An election which exempts Woods Cross is unlawful and if the commission adopts such a resolution, you should gear up for another lawsuit.”
Davis County Commissioner Dannie McConkie expressed surprised at the attitude of Utahns for Better Dental Health, saying that he thought it was interesting that they would want Woods Cross to vote, given Woods Cross’ record on the issue.
Speakers Tuesday addressed myriad issues from the constitutionality of the vote to the health issue to the cost.
McConkie said the issue in question was not about the health benefits or lack thereof, but that the commissioners’ job was to preserve the people’s right to have another chance at the ballot box.
John Hooper, a Layton resident, attributed health problems to fluoridated water he drank while he was a resident of Anchorage, Alaska.
Bountiful resident Charles Bradford spoke out on the constitutionality of the issue. He said that the issue of fluoridation never should have been placed on the ballot, because in a republic, no one had the right to force fluoridation on anyone else. Later, Bradford said the question before commissioners was not if fluoride is good or bad for teeth, but that no one has the authority to impose fluoridation on someone who doesn’t want it.
Dave Hansen, chairman of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, and a Kaysville resident, was the one who requested the commissioners put the issue back on the ballot. He agreed that the issue at hand was not about the health risks, but about listening to the 10,000 people who signed an initiative petition for a revote, “whose voices should not have been silenced.”
Nevertheless, at Tuesday’s meeting Hansen did get into a verbal debate with Davis County Health Director Lewis Garrett over the merits of the chemical.
Following the meeting, Garrett said he believes voters were asked the fluoridation question and responded in 2000, when they voted 52 to 48 percent in favor of fluoridation.
He said he regrets that county residents must go through the vote again, but believes they will reaffirm that vote, and by even a wider margin.
Davis County cities and the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District have spent thousands of dollars for each entity installing equipment. And now, the vast majority of the county is receiving fluoridated water. McConkie told the gathering that voters should make their decision based on their belief about fluoridation, not on the costs of installation, because those costs have already been incurred.