There are ten cities that turn on the tap and the water that pours out comes from Wichita. That means tens of thousands of customers will be affected by November’s fluoridation vote with no input in the decision.
Dr. Wendy Reynolds supports fluoridated water and shares her opinion with patients at her Park City office. “I feel like it would benefit all of us to have the fluoride in the water,” Reynolds said.
But the doctor won’t get a chance to voice her opinion at the polls.
“We feel like we’re being kind of short-ended on the deal. We feel like we have as much of an opinion as everyone else should.”
Park City, Derby, Rose Hill, Valley Center and several other cities rely on Wichita Water Utilities for some, or all, of their water service. In Park City last year, 26% of the water came from Wichita. The rest was produced by Chisolm Creek Utility Authority.
“Fluoride is beneficial as a topical application. And there’s no need to ingest it in your body. It’s good on your teeth. And there’s nothing that’s proven it’s good on your body,” said Park City City Councilman John Lehnherr.
He disagrees about the merits of flouride in the drinking water, but agrees with Dr. Reynolds that park city voters should have a say.
“There’s no consideration to any of these outlying communities to be part of this vote and we take issue with that,” he said.
The Wichita City Attorney’s office sent FactFinder 12 Investigators the following statement, explaining the decision to limit the vote to Wichitans:
The petition proposing the fluoridation ordinance was submitted to the City of Wichita through a process established by state statute. ( K.S.A. 12-3013). The statute designates who may vote on a proposed ordinance submitted to a city by petition. The statute requires the petition to be signed by electors of the city receiving the petition and the ordinance to be submitted to a vote of the “electors of the City.” Therefore, the statute only allows residents of the City of Wichita to vote on the ordinance. The statute governs the petition and election process. The City of Wichita and the Election Commissioner do not have the authority to change the process to allow residents of Sedgwick County or residents of other cities, who contract for water from the City, to vote in the special election.