City Commissioner Randy Leonard just made the race to fluoridate Portland’s water supply more controversial, if that’s even possible.
Leonard on Friday proposed that the Portland Water Bureau implement a fluoridation plan by March 1, 2014, two months before voters could weigh in under an initiative effort that will be launched by opponents.
The contentious issue of fluoridation has sparked hundreds to write or call the Portland City Council in advance of a hearing Sept. 6 and vote Sept. 12. Already, Leonard has lined up votes from Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Nick Fish in support of fluoride. But it’s not clear if the new timeline will carry support.
Previously, Water Bureau officials said it would take at least five years to launch a $5 million fluoride facility and program, although Administrator David Shaff later said it could potentially be completed in about three years.
Reached Friday evening, Shaff declined to comment on the hastened timeline that is included in the proposed in the City Council ordinance, which had been released earlier in the afternoon.
Leonard could not be reached for comment.
Opponents have pledged to collect 29,786 valid signatures in an effort to ban fluoride from Portland water and are targeting the May 2014 election. They could instead opt to block the pending City Council decision through a different election process. But they’d have just 30 days from the date of the City Council vote to collect 19,868 valid signatures.