For the third time, North Platte voters have said “no” to fluoride. Two-thirds of the local voters approved a measure to opt out of a state mandate that requires cities with 1,000 or more people to fluoridate their drinking water.
With all 27 precincts reporting, the unofficial election results showed that a total of 6,419 people (67 percent) voted to prohibit fluoridation while 3,220 (23 percent) favored the state mandate.
This was the third time that North Platte residents have voted on the issue, all with the same result.
Earlier this year, lawmakers adopted a bill (LB 245) that requires any city in Nebraska with a population of 1,000 or more to fluoridate their water by June 1, 2010. Any city that did not currently fluoridate its water was given the chance to opt out of this mandate through a ballot initiative.
The bill got off to a controversial start. Although it was passed by the legislature on a 34-8 vote, the bill was subsequently vetoed by Gov. Dave Heinemann who said that it amounted to an unfunded mandate. Lawmakers then voted 31-4 to override the governor’s veto.
The controversy continued in the weeks leading up to the General Election. Supporters of fluoridation said it’s the single most effective thing that communities can do to prevent tooth decay.
However, those who oppose fluoridation claim that fluoride is a highly toxic substance and that the benefits of fluoride are topical (applied to the surface of the tooth) rather than systemic (from inside the body).
Six other area cities voted on this issue, and all six voted to opt out of the state requirement. In Sutherland, 75 percent voted against fluoridation. Similar results were seen in Grant where 71 percent voted for the opt out provision.
Similar defeats were seen in Cozad (66-34 percent), Gothenburg (66-34 percent), Lexington (60-40 percent) and Broken Bow (59-41 percent). A total of 61 Nebraska communities voted on this opt-out provision on this year’s ballot.