WATSONVILLE — The city will take its nearly three-year fight against fluoridation to the state Supreme Court.
The decision, made by the City Council in closed session at the end of a lengthy meeting, came after nearly an hour of public testimony on the issue earlier in the evening when the Council Chamber was packed with residents.
“We’ve done the research. We are educated people,” Councilman Manuel Bersamin told speakers after the public hearing closed. “We have to make the best decision we can for the totality of the citizens of Watsonville.”
The legal battle against a state Department of Health Services order to fluoridate is an attempt by the council to uphold the will of city voters, who passed an anti-fluoride measure in 2002.
During the hearing, fluoride backers, including several medical and dental professionals, told the council that the city’s children are suffering from poor oral health. Fluoride has been proven to prevent tooth decay in more than 50 years of use in the United States, they said.
Dr. Michelle Simon, a Watsonville pediatrician, compared her Watsonville patients to those she’s seen during stints in other cities with fluoridated water.
“I’ve never seen teeth as bad as I have locally,” she said. “Don’t appeal. Put fluoride in the water.”
But fluoride foes were just as adamant in their opposition. They cited recent questions raised about the chemical’s safety, including a possible link to a rare form of bone cancer.
The voters of Watsonville have spoken, they said.
“I’m just a small spoke in a large wheel,” said Paul McCain, a Green Valley Road resident. “I’d like to think my voted counted.”
The city has lost two previous court challenges to the state order. Most recently, the state Sixth District Court of Appeals said state law mandating fluoridation in cities with more than 10,000 water hook-ups supersedes local ordinances.