HARRISONBURG – You might think the fluoride issue in Timberville ended when Town Council voted last month to continue adding the chemical to its water supply.
You’d be wrong.
Resident Mike Gray filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in Rockingham County Circuit Court on Feb. 12, the same day council took the vote.
The writ asks Judge James Lane to order the town to put the issue before residents for a vote in November.
Town Attorney Mark Callahan filed a motion in response to the writ last week, requesting it be dismissed.
In his response, Callahan contends that Gray’s petition conflicts with state law and references federal laws that are inapplicable.
The motion asks for a hearing to dismiss the petition on March 18, Gray said, but the date and time have not been set.
Town Manager Austin Garber declined to comment on it.
Callahan could not be reached Thursday, but he has said he would not comment on the issue while it’s pending in court.
‘Let The People Vote’
Fluoridation became a hot-button issue after council decided to reconsider the practice early last year.
In October, council voted to pose the question of whether to continue the practice as a ballot referendum, but the measure hit a legal roadblock.
Callahan informed council members in November that state law does not allow fluoridation to be voted on as a ballot referendum.
In response, Del. Matt Lohr, R-Broadway, agreed to sponsor legislation on behalf of the town asking the General Assembly to allow a nonbinding ballot measure to go before Timberville voters. Lohr’s bill, however, did not pass.
But Gray says that because the council voted to put it on the ballot, Timberville residents should have their say.
“I’m not taking a pro and I’m not taking a con view about this,” he said. “All I’m saying in the writ is let the people vote for themselves, which the Town Council agreed to in October.”
In his response, Callahan wrote that Gray has “failed to state a cause of action. … Mandamus is not an appropriate remedy … [and] the Court is without jurisdiction to hear the Petition.”