Fluoride proponents are testing the waters at Portland City Hall to see if officials will schedule a public vote sometime in 2013 instead of 2014.
Last month, opponents blocked the City Council’s unanimous September decision that would have added fluoride to drinking water reaching roughly 900,000 residents in Portland and the suburbs.
The successful referendum means voters will decide the fate of fluoride in May 2014 — the next regularly scheduled primary — unless the City Council intervenes. According to city code, the council can set an earlier date if the “public interest in a prompt resolution of the question outweighs the costs associated with a special election.”
Multnomah County already has a special election scheduled May 21, 2013. That’s when the Portland Children’s Levy renewal heads to voters, and it’s possible that advocates (perhaps buoyed by polling) might think fluoride could fare well with like-minded voters.
Special elections draw few voters.
The 2009 special election, for instance, drew just 15 percent countywide turnout when Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade ran to fill an abruptly vacated seat. Voter turnout in the 2010 primary was 35 percent and in the 2012 primary it hit 40 percent.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who met with fluoride proponents last week, said Monday she isn’t in favor of an accelerated timeline.
“I don’t support that,” she said.