CORNING — The Steuben County Dental Society has launched a campaign to defeat Proposition 1, a ballot initiative aimed at prohibiting the city of Corning from fluoridating its water supply.

Dr. John Gunselman, a Corning dentist, said letters were mailed Tuesday to dental patients who are registered voters in the city of Corning urging them to vote against Proposition 1.

The proposition calls for amending the Corning City Charter to take away the city government’s authority to fluoridate the public water supply.

“We’ve mailed a couple of brochures with general information urging people to vote ‘No,'” Gunselman said. “We’ll probably have another mailing in October.”

Gunselman said the campaign will also include lawn signs and media advertising supporting fluoridation.

“This is very important,” Gunselman said. “The Dental Society has tried to get this for 50 years. It’s a safe and effective way to improve dental health.”

Kirk Huttleston of Corning, who organized the petition campaign that landed Proposition 1 on the Nov. 4 ballot, said the issue is too important to be decided by the City Council alone.

“This isn’t an up/down vote on fluoridation,” Huttleston said. “It’s a vote on democracy. It’s important that we should all have a say.”

Huttleston said he will use his e-mail list of people who signed the anti-fluoride petition to encourage them to vote “Yes” on Nov. 4.

“I don’t have a very specific ‘hit the streets’ plan, but I’m going to urge each of those people to bring two friends to the polls,” he said.

The controversy has continued for more than two years. The council first voted to fluoridate the water supply and later decided to place a moratorium on spending for fluoridation until after the referendum.

The debate centered on whether fluoride’s dental health benefits offset its possible negative health consequences.