Elgin City Council members took on the decision of fluoridating Elgin’s public water system at the Nov. 20 meeting instead of allowing the issue to go before voters as was considered at a previous meeting.
On a split 5-3 vote, the decision was to not add fluoride to Elgin’s water. Voting for the prohibition were council members Pat Frenzel, Stephen Kylberg, W. C. Estes, Theresa Scott and Theresa McShan. Voting against the motion to prohibit fluoridation were council members Anthony Ramirez, Sylvia Ramirez and Mayor Gladys Markert.
As well as hearing comments from the public, each council member was asked to give their opinion on the issue. This was the second reading of the proposal to add fluoride to the water. The town had originally added fluoride to the water system in 1984 but stopped two years ago when work on the water treatment plant began.
Speaking out against fluoridation were residents Lynn Cottle and Sandy Murphree. Speaking for fluoridation were Tom Napier, Allison Tangeman, Gina Christensen, Mark Peppard and John Simecek.
Cottle suggested people wanting fluoride protection for their teeth could use a topical application such as toothpaste because some studies have shown fluoride could be dangerous for kidneys, bones and autistic children. Murphree reported toxicologist reports indicated water fluoridation was an inappropriate way of delivering medicine. She said public water fluoridation penalized families considered at the poverty level who had poor nutrition and could not combat the results of fluoride in the water.
Those speaking on behalf of public water fluoridation included a fluoridation engineer with the Texas Fluoridation Project, Napier, and a number of dental professionals around Elgin. All felt the benefits of public water fluoridation was the most effective way to fight dental disease. Tangeman did not believe toothpaste was an adequate way to fight dental disease in the development of teeth. Simecek, who is a dentist, reported his own experience was that his one child who did not benefit from water supply fluoridation had more dental problems than the other children who did.
Mayor Markert said she had asked various citizens about their feelings and found that it was definitely not a high priority on residents’ “radar screens.” Markert personally felt council members should follow the advice of the medical community and she was in favor of again adding fluoride to the water system. She then polled each council member verbally and asked for their thoughts.
Sylvia Ramirez agreed with the mayor. She had made few inquiries of the public, but it had been added for over 20 years and she personally felt that Elgin should return to the process that was stopped because of work on the treatment plant. She felt that the citizens of Elgin should vote and express their opinion on the matter.
Theresa Scott stated that we didn’t know the long-term effects of such and she was not for including such in the water supply.
Theresa McShan stated she had lived in Elgin, raised her children here and now has a grandchild and that she had personally not seen one bit of evidence that fluoride in the drinking water had benefited them. They all had very high rates of dental cavities. She was not in favor of adding it to the city water supply.
Anthony Ramirez stated that it has been proved good in reduction of dental problems, that medical history proves that it is good and it is an easy way for prevention of problems and he was for adding it again.
Stephen Kylberg stated that fluoridation is not a cure-all. “Our water has some naturally occurring fluoride in it, that there can be only a very small margin of error when adding it to a municipal water supply and he felt that other methods could be used if persons wanted to use it for dental problems,” said Kylberg. He was against it.
Pat Frenzel stated that the commercial grade of fluoride has a lot of additives included with it and she felt that forcing medication on the public is over-kill. She was against the addition of it to the water.
W.C. Estes said he felt this was an equally-divided issue. He operated on the premise of not forcing things on people. He used the example of what if his cardiologist told him that everyone should take Lipitor. He was against adding things and forcing matters on the people.