SANDPOINT — The Fourth of July is well behind us, but Sandpoint is saving its most explosive fireworks for Wednesday night, when the City Council finally gets its chance to weigh in on the controversial water fluoridation ordinance.
More than a dozen anti-fluoride activists spoke out against the program at September’s Public Works meeting, imploring the city to end what many referred to as “mass medication.” After hearing all arguments, the commission unanimously voted to send the fluoride issue to the full council for a vote. Even if residents are given a chance to vote on the matter, it would only be advisory and the council would not be bound by the results.
Among its options, the council could chose to maintain the fluoride program, do away with it, or give Sandpoint residents the final say by putting it on November’s ballot.
The issue is nothing new — the city has added small amounts of fluoride to its water since the early 1950s — but growing dissent about the program, including calls for its abolition from Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and the Bonner County Republican Central Committee, forced the council to take a closer look at the ordinance.
A letter Wheeler wrote denouncing fluoridation was read into the record at the Public Works meeting.
“According to the Declaration of Independence, our elected representatives are responsible to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “I believe this proposition should be applied to the forced fluoridation of water.”
Representing the other side of the argument, local dentist Dr. Robert Harrison presented the city a petition he said is signed by every dentist in Sandpoint asking the council to maintain the fluoride ordinance. Harrison, like the Centers for Disease Control and the American Dental Association, argues that fluoridation is helpful in preventing tooth decay.
Sandpoint resident Mary Baenen is perhaps the most outspoken critic of fluoridation and has spent years compiling a petition to have it removed from city water. Baenen has suggested that water fluoridation can lead to a host of illnesses, including cancer. Ideally, Baenen would like to see the council decide the issue rather it being put to a citywide vote.
“I’m in favor of having the purest water, unadulterated by any unnecessary chemicals or drugs,” she said. “I feel like water is precious, and I don’t think that any individual or any group, or even a majority vote, should allow a drug to be added to our community drinking water.”
The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.