Dr. Paul Connett, a chemist and internationally known fluoride opponent, will speak Tuesday night during a Brooksville City Council budget workshop.

Mayor Lara Bradburn was envisioning a “presidential-style debate” earlier this summer, and was hoping for a health department representative to go head-to-head with Connett.

On Monday evening during a regular City Council meeting, Bradburn told Dr. Johnny Johnson, a pediatric dentist from Palm Harbor, “someone” had accepted her invitation to debate Connett.

“Yes, and you know that,” Bradburn told Johnson.

On Friday afternoon, a city employee sent out a list of Connett’s publications and photo, but did not include any information on another speaker.

On Thursday, Hernando Health Department spokeswoman Ann-Gayl Ellis said the department never agreed to send a representative for the debate.

“We will be attending, not debating,” Ellis said. “We’ve provided a lot of information to City Council (on fluoride) … we definitely hope they reinstate fluoride.”

Johnson was invited to debate Connett last month and declined.

On Monday, Johnson said the National Research Council – “12 of the smartest folks in the world” – studied and debated the effects of naturally fluoridated water for three and a half years.

“The gentleman invited to come next week to debate fluoridation was not a member on that panel nor was he invited to be a member on that panel because they did not want him on the panel,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he is planning to attend the Tuesday workshop, and hopes city council will grant him equal time to present the benefits of community water fluoridation. He said he will not debate Connett.

Fluoride was added to City of Brooksville water from 1986 through 2011. Back in May, city council held a fluoride workshop, with health department representatives explaining fluoride has been a safe way to prevent tooth decay for nearly 70 years. Bradburn herself presented against fluoride, and said at the time she is “not a scientist by any stretch” but “took the time” to read through 50 fluoride study and cross-check hundreds of references.

The meeting is set to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Brooksville City Hall is located at 201 Howell Ave. and can be reached by phone at (352) 540-3810.