Fluoride opponents celebrated Thursday outside Portland City Hall after submitting more than twice as many signatures needed to force a public vote on the city’s controversial plan.
Leaders of Clean Water Portland said 43,236 voters signed a petition to block — and refer to the ballot — the city’s Sept. 12 decision approving fluoride.
City and county election officials will have 30 days to certify the referendum effort, which requires at least 19,858 valid signatures. Opponents turned in their paperwork one day ahead of their deadline.
“This is a miraculous day,” said opponent Roger Burt, who watched in the city Auditor’s office as Clean Water Portland leaders turned over seven boxes filled with hundreds of pages of signatures. Burt in 1980 helped drive the ballot measure that overturned a voter-approved 1978 decision to add fluoride.
“This rarely happens,” he said of the presumed-to-be successful referendum.
At 2:55 p.m., organizers headed outside and received cheers from about 50 onlookers who came to celebrate.
Kim Kaminski, who led the petition effort, said the group could make a recommendation to the City Council as soon as next week about election options. As a default, the city would schedule a vote in May 2014. But the council could choose a 2013 date if it decides the issue is in the “public interest.”
Kaminski said she thinks citizens will shoot down fluoride, whenever they get a chance to vote.
“Judging from the response we’ve gotten from them now, and judging from the fact Portlanders tend to think for themselves, I’m very confident,” she said.