If fluoride is to come out of Crescent City’s water supply, it will have to be done through a grassroots campaign.
The Crescent City Council reiterated its stance Monday that it will not put a measure on a future ballot to take fluoride out of its water, and instead will force citizens to gather enough signatures through a petition to put the issue to a referendum.
“For me the people spoke when they did the vote,” Council Member Charles Slert said. “For me the people need to speak again. It should not be our decision as a body.”
Crescent City has fluoridated its water for nearly 40 years, and it was a decision that was made after a majority vote of the people approved the measure. Similarly, to take fluoride out of the water would require an election of the people.
Fellow Council Member Dennis Burns agreed with Slert’s assessment, and said it’s up to the people to decide if they no longer want fluoride in the city’s water.
“If people want this on the ballot,” Burns said, “I think they should go through the petition process.”
Since December there has been a push to remove fluoride from Crescent City’s water.
The discussion has been spearheaded by Council Member Donna Westfall, who was elected to her first term in office in November. It was her request Monday to get the remainder of the council to back a ballot initiative to remove fluoride from the city’s water tanks.
She began pushing for defluoridation after speaking with some people in the community who said the harmful affects of consuming fluoride far outweigh what they perceive as the minimal preventative tooth decay qualities of the chemical.
“Our people are overfluoridated,” Westfall said Monday.
Health problems from over-consumption of fluoride range from discoloration and weakening of tooth enamel to an increased risk of bone fractures and lowered IQ, according to Westfall and other opponents.
Many studies supporting these claims can be found on Web sites, such as that of the Fluoride Action Network and more recently through www.delnortecleanwater.org, a new domain created by a local woman who is also helping lead the charge for defluoridation of the city’s water.
Katherine Kelly, the woman who created the local Web site, was at Monday’s meeting along with city resident Jesse Salisbury, another local foe of fluoridation. Together they have spoke at a number of City Council meetings to urge decisionmakers to remove fluoride from the city’s water system, but have so far been unsuccessful.
This does not mean they have not garnered support, however. A few new faces were present at the City Council meeting, and some of these people made their viewpoints known.
City resident Paul Norup told the council he only recently learned of the city fluoridating its water, and when he did he was appalled that he was being subjugated to a practice that he thinks is potentially dangerous.
“For the past two and half years or so I found I’ve been medicated against my will,” Norup said. “I think it’s ethically wrong to medicate people against their will.”
Local dentists still tend to support keeping fluoride in Crescent City’s water, and the American Dental Association also endorses the practice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”