LONGMEADOW – Ballot question two, which asked residents if they wanted to discontinue use of fluoride in town water, failed yesterday with 817 voters opposed and 427 in favor.
The town’s annual election was held yesterday with only two questions on the ballot and openings on the Select Board, School Committee, Planning Board and Housing Authority.
Town Clerk Katherine Ingram said there was not much controversy about anything on the ballot this year, especially since all those seeking seats were running unopposed.
“It was a pretty quiet voting day,” she said. “We had a good turnout,” with 11.3 percent or 1,252 voters showing up.
Outside the Community House, where voting was held, several people stood holding signs for William G. Scibelli, running for his second term on the Select Board. School Committee Chairwoman Mary E. Vogel and member Robert Barkett, both running for re-election, greeted voters in the morning.
“It was steady all day. People came in and voted, and then they were on their way. Everything has been going smoothly,” Ingram said.
The second question, added to the ballot close to the election date, has been an issue in town for nearly 20 years. Articles discussing the negative effects of fluoride have come up at Town Meeting for many years.
Nine articles on the subject failed during Town Meeting this year, but resident Eleanor M. Stolar found a provision in the town charter that allowed her to request a nonbinding question to be put on the ballot.
Voter Carole Mezzetti was happy to see the question on the ballot, so people could have a chance to say yes or no.
“There are a lot of pros and cons to this issue,” she said. “In fact, many years ago I did a report for my 11th-grade class on fluoride. There was controversy about it back then as well.”
Stolar and others in town have argued for years that fluoride is harmful if ingested, especially for infants.
“We use it to flush the toilet, wash the car, shower, and most people drink bottled water anyway,” Mezzetti said. “As long as kids are getting fluoride at the dentist, what’s the point of having it in the water?”
Select Board Chairman Brian M. Ashe, who won a third term with 893 votes, was not surprised to see question two fail, but was glad it was on the ballot.
“The town has spoken,” he said. “They had their chance to get a larger audience, and maybe now this will be put to bed, at least for a while.”
Scibelli, who also ran for re-election to the Select Board, received 890 votes.
Vogel, running for her second term, received 843 votes. Robert Barkett, who initially took out nomination papers for Select Board and School Committee, only turned in School Committee papers and won 872 votes.
On the Planning Board, Bruce E. Colton received 909, the most votes for any elected position on the ballot. He has been on the board for more than 20 years. It was Christine Nuger’s first election after being appointed to the Planning Board last year. She received 820 votes.
A Housing Authority position was open for write-in nominations. Two names were entered, Bernard Cohen, with 14 votes, and Ronald Manseau, with 11 votes. If Cohen does not accept the position, it will be appointed by the Select Board.
Ballot question one, which asked residents to give the Select Board and Audit Committee the right to select an independent auditor, passed with 991 votes in favor and 158 against.