The fight over fluoridating Portland’s water isn’t finished. Voters overwhelmingly defeated Ballot Measure 26-161 in Tuesday’s election, repealing the City Council’s plan to fluoridate the water. But opponents have already filed an initiative petition for a City Charter change to prevent the council from ever doing it in the future. They temporarily stopped gathering signatures during the campaign.
Opponents also are pressing for an investigation into officials at the Oregon Health Authority, whom they accuse of illegally aiding the pro-fluoride campaign on public time. Clean Water Portland, the committee that fought the fluoride measure, released a collection of emails from OHA officials obtained through the public records law the day before the election.
According to campaign chairwoman Kimberly Kaminski, the emails prove the officials worked behind the scenes with the pro-fluoride campaign to pass the measure. She is calling for an Oregon Department of Justice investigation.
Smile, it’s the future of fluoride politics
Although they’re unlikely to admit it, City Commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman must be wondering what the overwhelming defeat of the fluoride measure means for their re-election chances, especially if opponents place their measure on the primary election ballot.
Fish and Saltzman have both indicted they will run for re-election next year. They both voted with the rest of the council to fluoridate the water last September, then watched as opponents referred it to the May 2014 ballot. Fish and Saltzman then joined the rest of the council to move the measure to Tuesday’s Special Election ballot. At the time, both said they were not worried about the effect it might have on their re-elections.
But now they’ve seen the passions the issue stirred up. And it is possible that some of the activists who worked on the successful repeal campaign might have their eyes on City Hall.
Wiener rhymes with winner
Once again, Portland political consultant Mark Wiener was the go-to man in the May 17 special election. His firm, Winning Mark, worked on all three of the measures that appeared on Portland ballots.
Because Winning Mark provides both management and media buying services, it’s impossible to tell from campaign financing filings how much profit the firm made. But as of election day, the ballot measure committees reported paying it more than $341,000.
The largest amount came from the pro-fluoride campaign, which reported paying Winning Mark more than $198,000. The firm also received more than $164,000 from the campaign in support of the Portland Children’s Levy and more than $79,000 from two committees supporting Metro’s natural lands levy.
The amounts undoubtedly will increase as the filings are updated, perhaps significantly.