If you thought Fluoride Free Austin would go quietly into that good night after failing to get a fluoridated-water warning placed on Austin utility bills, you were mistaken. Last Saturday, one of the group’s most outspoken members, Laura Pressley, announced that she is running for City Council, which makes her the first official challenger to any of the four incumbents standing for re-election: Sheryl Cole, Mike Martinez, Bill Spelman, and Mayor Lee Leffingwell. At Saturday’s announcement event at Scholz Garten, Pressley was joined by a who’s who of the Austin libertarian/small government/police department watchdog/anti-fluoride community, including Texans for Accountable Government Executive Director Heather Fazio and council gadflies Clay Dafoe and John Bush, the latter of whom was banned from City Hall by Leffingwell back in August during a debate over Tasers (an event, you may recall, that inspired a candlelight vigil to mourn the “death of free speech” in Austin).
Pressley, who co-founded purified bottled rainwater company Pure Rain in 2007 after spending 17 years working as an engineer for various local semiconductor companies, says she’s running because the current City Council members don’t listen to their constituents, lack the technical knowledge needed to run such a plugged-in city, and don’t make the environmental, economic, and personal health of Austinites their priority. City Council members “don’t pay attention to the Austinites, what our needs are,” she said. “I’ve been presenting at City Council for the last year and a half, and I’ve had it with them. They don’t respond. They don’t pay attention to anybody.” Her platform includes opposition to body scanners and pat-downs at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, support for awarding city contracts to Austin-based companies, opposition to purchasing nuclear energy from the South Texas Project plant, demand for more government transparency, and, of course, opposition to the city’s water-fluoridation practices. As for which council member she’ll run against, Pressley hasn’t decided yet. But in the end, she says, it doesn’t really matter much. “I think I could do better than all three of them,” she says.