SANDPOINT — Tensions ran high at Wednesday’s Public Works meeting when more than a dozen anti-fluoride activists stood before the commission to demand the city stop adding fluoride to its water.
Calling the practice unethical, unsafe, illegal and even a crime against humanity, fluoride opponents made impassioned pleas to council members John Reuter, Michael Boge and Carrie Logan to either overturn the city’s 55-year-old fluoride ordinance or put the issue up for a citywide vote.
Only one resident spoke out in favor of maintaining the fluoridation. Local dentist Robert Harrison presented the commission with a petition he said was signed by every dentist in the area asking the city to maintain the fluoridation. Harrison said there is consensus among his colleagues — as well the Centers for Disease Control — that water fluoridation is helpful in preventing tooth decay.
“I think a citywide vote would be a waste of time,” Harrison said.
As Harrison concluded his remarks to the commission, a member of the crowd inside City Hall yelled, “God help you, son. God help you.”
The anti-fluoride contingency dominated the evening, but many of the speakers were not Sandpoint residents. Several attendees said they lived outside city limits but consumed Sandpoint water, and others traveled from Washington state to attend the meeting.
Ponderay resident Shawn Larsen was one of the most outspoken critics of fluoridation and went as far as calling the practice a crime against humanity.
“I believe this will soon be exposed as a crime against humanity, and you have the power to stop it,” he said. “In fact, it’s your obligation.”
Others in the crowd — one of whom wore a shirt that said “Stop fluoride before it stops you” — questioned the legality of fluoridation and suggested the practice was nothing more than an attempt by corporations to make money while unloading toxins into the water supply.
After listening to all the testimony, the commission voted 2-1 to forward the issue to the full council for discussion. The council has several options, including putting the item on November’s ballot for a citywide vote, keeping the status quo or doing away with the fluoride ordinance all together. If the council opts to put the issue on the ballot, it would officially be an advisory vote that the city is not legally obligated to follow.
Both Boge and Reuter spoke out in favor of giving Sandpoint citizens final say on the matter, and Logan said she preferred to keep the status quo.
“In order for this issue to not come up repeatedly, I think at this time it’s best to put it to a straw pole vote, get a direction about what people want and then have council follow the direction that’s been laid out by the public,” Boge said.
The fluoridation issue will be decided when the council meets Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.