An initiative to stop the city of Hutchinson from adding fluoride to the water was supported by voters on Election Day.
A few percentage points separated the vote late Tuesday evening: 52 percent of voters checked the “yes” box, which will prevent an additional dose of fluoride being added to the city water supply.
Fluoridation would have been made possible by a $247,000 grant to the city from the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund. Tuesday’s vote repealed the ordinance accepting the grant.
“I feel like we should congratulate the people of Hutchinson for relying on their own good common sense and rejecting fluoride,” said Dr. Eve Hohly, a Hutchinson psychiatrist who has spoken out against the issue.
With 38 of 40 precincts counted at 11 p.m., the issue was failing by 685 votes. The tally was 8,417 for repeal and 7,722 against.
Although the margin narrowed throughout the evening, the final numbers were disappointing to members of the pro-fluoride group, including members of the Healthy Teeth for Hutchinson organization.
“We’re naturally disappointed that the majority voted to repeal the ordinance to add fluoride to the water,” said Kim Moore, president of the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund. “The victory really goes to high levels of tooth decay in children and senior citizens.”
The confusing nature of the ballot – where “no” was a vote of support of fluoridation – likely helped the opposition win, Moore said.
“It’s very hard to explain to people what a yes and no vote meant,” he said.
The grant money earmarked for fluoridation in Hutchinson will be reallocated to other health programs, Moore said.
“I hope we can fluoridate other communities,” he said.