Stuart voters who declined to answer the fluoride question

Martin County Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis and staff.

A leading local opponent to fluoride spoke to Martin County Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis on Wednesday about what seemed to be a discrepancy between 3,910 votes cast in Stuart’s Tuesday referendum and 4,588 ballots that were cast in the seven city precincts.

Only then did Pat Arena of Jensen Beach concede Tuesday’s vote supported adding fluoride to Stuart municipal water — albeit by a slim margin.

Davis explained one of seven precincts in Stuart included 613 county voters who weren’t eligible to vote for or against the city ordinance — but cast ballots for presidential candidates and/or the tax amendment. Adding 65 Stuart voters who left the fluoride question blank on their ballots explains the 678-vote difference.

“I’m satisfied with (Davis’) explanation,” Arena said.

He’s far from satisfied with the fluoride vote.

“I don’t consider it a loss for us,” Arena said. “I consider it valuable information that we didn’t have before. Do you realize that almost half the people didn’t want it?”

A tiny amount of fluoride in drinking water is recommended against tooth decay by an overwhelming number of medical and public health groups. But opponents said adding fluoride has serious health risks.

Jensen Beach dentist Dr. Radamee Orlandi said fluoride supporters were pleased by Tuesday’s results.

“Clearly, this is a step forward in the preventative arena,” Orlandi said.

Bonnie Schultheis lives in the 1600 block of Willoughby Road. Her home is among more than 2,500 into which Stuart drinking water is piped, but whose residents live outside city limits and were ineligible to vote in Tuesday’s referendum.

“I specifically went to vote just on that because I don’t want fluoride in my water, ” Schultheis said. “What do I do now? It’s like, who was appointed God to decide who got to vote and which areas were left out?”

Stuart Mayor Jeff Krauskopf said he’s against putting fluoride in city water and didn’t want a referendum on it.

Nevertheless, he’s obliged to support a new city ordinance adding to drinking water a chemical listed “corrosive” in federal safety guidelines.

It will take between 90 and 120 days after the City Commission directs fluoridation to begin before it is added to tap water, said Dave Peters, city assistant public works director.Unofficial results show Stuart’s referendum to add fluoride to city drinking water won by 136 votes:

•Yes for fluoride: 2,023

•No against fluoride: 1,887

Total: 3,910 votes in seven precincts in which 4,588 ballots were cast.

Differential: 678 votes. In Precinct 2, 613 county voters were ineligible to vote on the city measure. Another 65 Stuart voters left the fluoride question blank on their ballots.