A local group of dentists, doctors and community members in favor of Wichita water fluoridation held a rally Friday at City Hall to mark the collection of more than 11,000 petition signatures.
Members of the group Wichitans for Healthy Teeth have been going door-to-door for the past several weeks collecting signatures and distributing information about what they believe are the benefits fluoridating the city’s water supply.
“More than 11,000 people signed this petition because they agree it’s time for Wichita to take this long overdue step toward better oral health for the Wichita area,” said Wichita dentist Dr. Sara Meng.
Officials with Wichita City Clerk’s Office confirmed they received the 1,300-page petition. The petition will be sent to the Election Commissioner’s Office to verify whether if there are enough valid signatures to submit it to the City Council for consideration. The petition must contain signatures of 25 percent of registered voters who participated in April’s election.
Meng says the group far exceeded the required 6,700 signatures.
Once certified, officials say the City Council has 20 days to either pass the ordinance without any changes or call for an election. This would require the matter to be placed on the Aug. 21 City Council agenda. If the City Council calls for an election, it must be held within 90 days of that decision. The vote may be held in conjunction with the regular election in November.
Fluoride exists naturally in water. Fluoridation occurs when a water system adjusts the fluoride to a level proven to reduce the incidence of tooth decay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has praised water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Another group, Fluoride Free Kansas, opposes the push to fluoridate Wichita’s water. They claim medical research shows fluoride is unsafe and are opposed to what they call the “forced-medication of the water supply.”