POTSDAM — More than 20 people gathered Thursday night in Potsdam’s Town Hall community room to listen to a man who had helped coordinate the removal of fluoride in Canton’s water supply.
However Paul Connett, a former professor at St. Lawrence University, was preceded by two women who had taken the evidence he had shared countless times to heart.
Walden Village Mayor Susan Rumbold and Trustee Lynn Thompson sat patiently in front of the crowd, but both held nothing back when speaking.
“And as an elected official, I guess what it came down to was I had to make a decision as to whether I was going to represent the entirety of my population or just one segment, and what it came down to at the end of the day was that big ‘what if,’” said Mrs. Rumbold.
She had eventually chosen to side with what she believed to be evidence against fluoridation.
Walden now has no fluoride in the water, a fact that Mrs. Thompson relishes.
“This is America. We’re all supposed to have a choice. We’re supposed to make good, sound choices for the people in our community,” she said. “Our mayor and our village manager made it very clear that you’re not going to bully us, you’re not going to change our minds, we’ve done our homework, we’ve spoken to our residents, fluoride’s going. And that was the end of that.”
Mr. Connett has traveled around the world to speak out against this issue, which he says is very personal.
For some in the crowd who have followed him around to events and online, it was a rehashing of the oldies.
“Fluoride is very toxic, no doubt about that,” he started.
He rehashed the story of how his wife had brought the issue to his attention in 1996 — with a stack of papers and cup of tea.
“I should have been suspicious with the cup of tea,” he said, eliciting chuckles from around the room.
He then ran through his greatest hits: fluoride decreases the total number of smart people in half, low-income families being targeted the most and the fetus is most impacted by fluoride in the water.
A smattering of nods and murmurs of approval spurred Mr. Connett on. His voice raised slightly, his tie and coat came off as the heat and excitement poured out of him.
At one point, he asked if everyone attending would vote to take fluoride out of the water. A field of hands and arms hid the speaker from those in the back row.
“Doctor, in 2019, I want you to address the vaccination issue,” one man said. Applause erupted from the crowd.
Potsdam Village Trustee Steve Warr stood by an empty door and told the crowd that the decision on whether to fluoridate the water — a practice first started over 30 years ago, according to Potsdam Mayor Reinhold J. Tischler — would be decided soon.
“It will be decided in August or September,” Mr. Warr said. “We’ve had plenty of time to make up our minds individually, now it’s time to make up our minds collectively.”
Mr. Tischler would not reveal which way he leaned.
“There were a lot of great points made tonight, but I am not ready to comment on my position yet,” he said.
Rosemarie Rivezzi, who is on the town board, said she would vote for not fluoridating the water if she had the chance; she won’t because the decision will fall to the village, not the town.
“What convinced me the most was letting people choose whether they want to take fluoride or not,” she said.
A doctor on the St. Lawrence County Board of Health wrote a press release stating his opinion on the matter.
“Fluoridation is a well-established, safe measure to improve the oral health and general health of children and adults in the community,” Dr. Andrew F. Williams wrote.
“The efficacy and safety of fluoridation of water is not simply a matter of opinion. The extensive scientific research on the matter has been reviewed, leading the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Dental Association, Mayo Clinic, American Medical Association and many other respected medical and health organizations to recognize and endorse the health benefits of fluoridation.”
*Original article online at http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news05/potsdam-forum-focuses-on-choice-about-fluoridation-20180729