PORT ANGELES — Eloise Kailin, the president of the anti-fluoridation group Our Water, Our Choice!, said Sunday she is against Mayor Patrick Downie’s proposal to hold a Nov. 7, 2017, advisory ballot on the controversial water treatment.
The City Council will discuss the pro-fluoridation mayor’s offer of conciliation to bring together warring sides in the fractious debate at the council’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St.
Downie’s plan, offered in a surprise move as a non-agenda item at the council’s July 19 meeting, includes stopping fluoridation of the city’s municipal water supply “now,” according to his prepared statement, and binding the City Council to the majority’s wishes.
Downie said Sunday he will not support the at least temporary cessation of fluoridation without the advisory ballot.
But Kailin — who praised other aspects of Downie’s proposal in a letter to the editor in today’s Peninsula Daily News — said council members should rely on a November survey of city water ratepayers that showed 57 percent opposition to fluoridation.
It did not include all city water users, included hundreds of ratepayers who receive city water outside the city limits and resulted in some ratepayers receiving multiple surveys because they owned multiple properties.
Kailin said council members also should heed the more than 1,000 city residents who signed a petition to hold an election Nov. 7, 2017 to change the form of city government and elect a new council.
She said they were responding to the present council majority’s pro-fluoridation stance, although she acknowledged the petition did not mention fluoridation or fully explain the ramifications of Port Angeles changing to a second-class city.
Enough signatures were validated to require an Nov. 7, 2017 ballot measure that City Attorney Bill Bloor has said will not include asking voters in the ballot title if a new city Council should be elected because, Bloor has contended, the law does not require it.
“A vote is superfluous,” Kailin said Sunday. “They do not need an advisory ballot.
“They have all the information they need on a perfectly good survey of their people,” Kailin said.
She emphasized that the council did not abide by the survey’s results showing 57 percent of respondents opposed to the practice and instead decided to continue fluoridation for 10 years, which spawned four ethics complaints against council members.
The survey results were just one indication of public sentiment, Kailin said, adding that residents also were upset that the council ignored results that reflected concerns about fluoridation’s health impacts, concerns disputed by health professionals.
“There is the citizens’ reaction to that survey and the more than 1,000 people telling them with the request in change of government that they do not want fluoridation,” Kailin said.
“Firing the City Council was the very evident response to the fluoridation issue.”
Kailin said she also is worried about money from outside Port Angeles weighing in on the side of keeping fluoridation, such as from the Washington Dental Service Foundation, a nonprofit founded and funded by the dental insurance company Delta Dental of Washington.
“We think that outside money is just going to just snow this place, and there is no telling what that money is going to do,” Kailin said.
Further explanation of the impact of second-class city status will be forthcoming, she added.
“We have to take one step at a time,” Kailin said. “The first step is to get the ballot title.
“The second step will be just what that change in government means. Even I have to explore it further.”
In an impassioned prepared statement at the July 19 council meeting, Downie quoted extensively from a Feb. 8 Peninsula Daily News editorial by Regional Publisher Terry Ward and Executive Editor Leah Leach.
“An advisory vote would give a better picture of the wishes of [the city council’s] constituents than an informal, flawed survey,” the editorial said.
Downie said July 19 that he still believes fluoridation is valid and beneficial but that “things are not working” and the survey was “flawed.”
Downie said Sunday that the advisory ballot is key to his overall effort.
“Having the advisory ballot is something of a two or threefold effort to regain some trust on the part of those that feel the way they did and do,” Downie said.
“The transcendent issue to me is the health and wellness of the community in total, not just fluoride,” Downie said.
The city-sponsored survey was mailed to 8,105 water customers in Port Angeles and 1,564 in an area of the Clallam Public Utility District east of the city limits who drink city water and would not be part of the advisory ballot next year.
“If there is a hue and cry that they are not getting to vote, I’m willing to talk about it,” Downie said.
If fluoridation were to cease at least until the Nov. 7, 2017 election, Downie said he hopes the dental community would step forward to provide fluoride to those who want it.