LANCASTER — More than 30 years later, and the residents of Lancaster haven’t changed their minds when it comes to fluoridation.
Voters defeated Issue 3, keeping the city from adding fluoride to the water supply and joining 91 percent of the state with fluoridated water.
The unofficial tally was 8,084 to 7,563, separated by 521 votes.
Tuesday’s election was the first time fluoridation was on the ballot since 1970. The issue came before the voters after the City Council discussed adding fluoride to the city water supply for several months.
In January, City Council voted 5-4 against fluoridation. On June 14, a 6-3 vote by City Council denied the councilmen the chance to decide if fluoridation in Lancaster was necessary, and allowed residents to decide if they wanted fluoride added to their water.
Councilman Dwight “Dyke” Andrews (D-At Large) said he didn’t have a stance on fluoridation. He wanted the voters to have a chance to decide.
“I think we have to respect that decision (of the voters),” said Andrews. “I know the pro-fluoride people reached a lot of voters, but we still need to respect the people’s decision.”
Early returns on the Board of Elections Web site showed Issue 3 passing by the slimmest of margins. The returns published around 8:50 p.m. Tuesday showed 916 people voted in favor of fluoridation, while 895 voted against it.
But as the night continued, supporters, such as the Healthy Smiles for Lancaster group, saw their hopes of having fluoride added to the water go down the drain.
Dr. Anthony DiNapoli, a member of Healthy Smiles, and the Ohio Department of Health, supported the fluoridation. DiNapoli is a dentist in Lancaster but grew up in Stuebenville. He said his group will meet to decide what their next step will be in trying to bring fluoridation to Lancaster.
“It’s unfortunate that our citizens were not willing to spend less than the cost of a candy bar for better oral health,” DiNapoli said in a release after the totals were announced.
“This is not a step that will get Lancaster out of the backwaters of oral health.”