For the second time in 16 years, the citizens of Texarkana, Ark., have rejected adding fluoride to their drinking water.
With 2,467 votes in favor and 4,231 votes against, the idea of community fluoridation was soundly defeated in a referendum held on Tuesday.
“This (result) was really a no-brainer,” said Mayor Danny Gray. “There were just so many people against it, I didn’t think it would have a chance, especially since it was defeated before.”
Gray said since the issue came up again “we had to put it before the people again … because you never know, people change and attitudes toward health issues change.”
Though the issue of community fluoridation was initially brought up by a Texarkana, Texas, City Council member and both city governments held public hearings on the subject, only the Arkansas side decided to go forward with a referendum.
“I’m glad we went ahead and did it,” said Gray. “The results show that the overwhelming majority of the people are against fluoridation … and this will probably kill the issue for awhile.”
Texas-side Mayor James Bramlett agreed.
“I feel fairly confident now that we know how the Arkansas side feels, there’s no reason that we should even tackle this issue again,” said Bramlett. “It is obvious what the overwhelming majority is.”
When asked if he was relieved that the outcome of the fluoridation vote now alleviates any responsibility the Texas side has regarding the issue, Bramlett said, “I just appreciate their (the Arkansas side’s) work on the issue. They helped to bring to light the direction we needed to take. The people have voice, and they have stated it clearly.”
Texas-side officials opted not to put fluoridation on the ballot for Nov. 5 because they were more focused on selling a $29.1 million bond issue to the citizens.
“At the time that the council decided to put this issue on the back burner, I expressed my disappointment,” said Christie Adams, the Texas-side council member who initially broached the subject of fluoridation. “But I am glad that we chose to focus on the bond issue as the city really needs the items that passed as well as those that didn’t pass. Putting fluoride on the same ballot might have jeopardized that.”
Adams was disappointed at the outcome of the fluoride vote, stating fluoride in the water would greatly benefit the children in the community.
However, Dr. James Presley, a major opponent and driving force behind the campaign against fluoridation, disagreed.
“Citizens are becoming more aware of the scientific facts and fluoride’s impact on health, especially children,” Presley said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased that Texarkana, Arkansas, for the second time in 16 years, defeated fluoridation–this time by a larger margin.
“This year the percentages were 63 percent against and only 37 percent for, moving toward a 2-1 difference. In 1986, residents voted 3-2 against fluoridation, and by voting down fluoridation, Texarkana continues to stand with the world’s progressive majority, including countries like Sweden, Germany, Japan and France, which have no fluoridation.”
Presley said citizens of Ashdown, Ark., also voted against fluoridation on Tuesday by a 790 to 721 vote.