Multnomah Circuit Court Judge Karin Immergut cleared the way for signature-gathering Tuesday when she approved the ballot language for the initiative, said Kim Kaminski, director of Clean Water Portland.
The group earlier submitted 44,000 petition signatures on a referendum that likely will force a public vote on the Portland City Council’s September decision to fluoridate Portland’s Bull Run water supply.
Verification of those signatures is expected soon, Kaminski says, and then the City Council could put the referendum before voters sometime between March 2013 and May 2014.
Clean Water Portland used hundreds of volunteers and some paid canvassers to gather more than twice the number of signatures needed to qualify the referendum. If elections officials determine that 19,858 valid signatures were submitted, that puts an immediate halt to city plans to fluoridate its water, until a public vote is taken.
The initiative would, if passed, prevent the city from ever trying to fluoridate its water, without a public vote to amend the City Charter.
“The referendum puts the genie in the bottle, and the initiative keeps it there,” Kaminski says. To qualify an initiative for the May 2014 ballot, her group would need about 30,000 valid petition signatures.
Raquel Luz Bournhonesque, co-director of Upstream Public Health, released a prepared statement in response to the initiative drive, on behalf of the group Upstream formed, the Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth Coalition. “When Portlanders are provided with accurate information, they will be able to differentiate between myth and fact and will land on the side of water fluoridation because it’s good for community health.”