ONEIDA – Fluoridating the city water supply was rejected at Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting with 5 “No” votes and a sole “Yes,” from Helen Acker.
Voting “No” were common councilors Brahim Zogby, Michael Bowe, Erwin Smith, Jim Chamberlain and Tom Simchik.
“I followed the medical issue and did homework,” said Acker on Wednesday concerning her vote. She also said she listened to her constituents, who were in favor of fluoridation.
“It was not a light decision” she said adding that she voted in a manner she felt strongly about.
“I hope it does come up again,” Acker said.
Prior to the vote, Oneida City mayor Max Smith pointed out to the audience that the council held three public hearings on the matter with healthy debates from both sides of the issue. Over the past few months, those against fluoride have said that they did not want the choice forced on them by a government, that they think fluoride is a toxin and that it is not the only way to prevent tooth decay.
Those for fluoridation pointed to studies from the Centers for Disease Control and information from the state Department of Health that indicates it is a helpful tool in combating oral health deficiencies; they maintain that it is safe in minimal doses which would translate to .7 parts per million if entered into the water supply; and that the only known health effect related to fluoride is dental fluorosis, a slight discoloring of teeth when exposed to higher doses of fluoride.
At previous meeting, members of the local medical community pointed to studies that show at least 75 percent of Americans live in areas with fluoridated water.
Following the high level of interest in the matter, Smith challenged city residents to not be “one-issue citizens” and to engage on other issues that come up in the future.
“I’m exhilarated,” said Oneida resident Kevin Goggins, who has argued against fluoridation. Goggins said that Oneida city residents need to address nutritional diets more rigorously and focus on sugar intake, which has many adverse health effects, including tooth decay.
Goggins said that last weekend, he took a walk around his neighborhood and found that 63 of the 73 people he spoke with were not in favor of fluoridation.
Sherrill resident Fred Diddle said that this was the third time since the 1970s that he has spoken out against fluoridation of the water supply.
When asked when the issue will come up again, Diddle said, “Maybe we can give it a rest for a while.”
Following the vote, Diddle also commended council for how they handled residents with differing view points.
“We try to strike a balance when dealing with an issue,” Smith said.
“We’re glad to know someone is listening to us,” said Oneida resident Elizabeth Carnevale, a former school nurse who spoke against fluoridation at previous public hearings. Carnevale believes that the root of the problem that is tooth decay should be addressed instead of treating the symptom.
Oneida resident Lisa Behr, who spoke against fluoride prior to the vote, said she is happy that the issue did not pass.
The water supply in question of fluoridation serves not only Oneida, the city Water Department also provides water service to the Sherrill-Kenwood District, Durhamville Water District, Prospect Street Water District, the Villages of Wampsville, Oneida Castle, and Vernon, Stockbridge Water District, Taberg Water District, Town of Verona, and Skenandoah-Highbridge Water District, all of which would have been served fluoridated water.
Following the vote, Dr. Samuel Barr, a local dentist and longtime proponent of fluoridation said, “It’s a shame… It’s already affecting children in Oneida.”
Barr said data prove that fluoridation is cost-effective and safe.
In other council action…