For the fourth time in the city’s history, voters have turned down a ballot issue that would provide for the fluoridation of Wooster’s water supply, a measure that dentists and physicians claim would help fight tooth decay.
Issue 11 failed by more than 1,000 votes with 5,353 citizens, or 55.91 percent, casting a ballot against the measure. About 44 percent, or 4,222 voters, said “yes” to fluoridation.
“Wooster has spoken, and we are delighted Wooster has joined most of the world in rejecting water fluoridation,” said Becky Baker, a member of Wayne Citizens for Safe Water, the group that opposed the issue. “This is the fourth and hopefully last time fluoridation will come up in Wooster.”
Kathryn Helmuth, a Wooster physician who has taken an active role in the Safe Water — Healthy Smiles initiative coalition, which placed the issue on the ballot, said the group is disappointed in the election result.
“We are disappointed that Wooster will not have the benefits of fluoridation, but we respect the wishes of the voters,” said Helmuth, who also serves as the medical director for the Wayne County Health Department. “We want to remind parents to continue fluoride supplements for their children as prescribed by doctors for optimal dental health.”
Helmuth said Safe Water — Healthy Smiles has no plans for bringing back the issue of fluoridation in Wooster.
In the meantime, Baker said Wayne Citizens for Safe Water plans to put pressure on federal elected officials to take up the issue.
“We will be going to Congress on the federal level and presenting it to our representatives,” Baker said. “We’ll take initiative there, and hopefully fluoridation will be remedied on a federal level.”
More than 90 percent of Ohio communities supplement water supply with fluoride, which is a naturally occurring element in water. Included in those communities are Orrville, Rittman, Ashland and Medina.
Voters in Wooster have now turned down fluoride four times, in four different decades. In November 1956, it was turned down by more than 2,500 votes. Voters returned similar decisions in 1970 and 1983.