Fifty-four years after an election on fluoridation of the Albany drinking water supply, the issue is back before the city council.
Councilwoman Matilda Novak brought it up. On March 21, she said she understood that fluoridation had been approved years ago by ordinance, and now she wanted a new ordinance to reverse that decision.
Novak asked that the issue be placed on a future agenda. She’ll get her wish. Last week City Manager Peter Troedsson announced fluoridation will be before the council on April 27.
I emailed the councilwoman to ask what prompted her request.
“Early in March,” she said by email, “I was contacted by a constituent who expressed grave concerns over the fact that Albany’s water supply contains fluoride (which I’ve known for some time now to be a toxic substance),” she told me by email.
She added that she had shared with the rest of the council “data and information” in support of her point that fluoride may be harmful and should not be added to the water.
This is a question that has been debated over the decades.
In Albany, the debate raged back and forth in the 1960s, with several council votes, referrals to overturn the votes, and initiatives to overturn whatever had been decided last.
The question came to a head in a special election on Aug. 15, 1968, on a measure to uphold or overturn a council-passed ordinance against fluoridation. This was believed to be the seventh time the issue had been before the voters.
The result: Votes against the fluoridation ban — 943. Votes to keep banning fluoridation — 676.
The upshot was that Pacific Power & Light, which owned the water system then, said it would start adding fluoride to Albany water that December. The city continued the practice when it bought the system in 1984.
When Novak brought this up, Councilor Ray Kopczynski said he was 100 percent opposed to ending fluoridation. And Councilor Dick Olsen related how it had helped his children avoid tooth decay.
Chris Bailey, the public works director, reminded Novak that all she needed to get the council to order a stop to fluoridation was four votes. (hh)