FARMINGTON — Two years ago at about this time Davis Health officials approached the County Commission requesting a referendum to fluoridate the county”s drinking water systems be placed on the November 2000 ballot.
On Tuesday, fluoridation opponents are hoping to receive similar treatment from the commission on their request for a countywide Nov. 5 revote on that same referendum.
The commission is expected to address the request at its regularly scheduled 10 a.m. meeting at the County Courthouse in downtown Farmington.
The commission will have the option of either rejecting, ignoring or approving the petition. But regardless of its action, unless the clerk”s office is advised otherwise by legal counsel, the revote will appear on the November ballot.
By collecting about 9,700 certified signatures from registered voters, fluoride opponents appear to have successfully challenged the 2000 election results to force a revote. In 2000, voters approved fluoridation by a 52 to 48 percent margin.
Fluoride opponents say questions swirling around the climbing costs of implementing fluoride helped lend support to their cause.
Health officials admit that early cost projections of adding one part fluoride per million to the drinking water were on the low side. But for “the cost of a couple of Big Mac sandwiches” per person, fluoridation remains a bargain in preventing tooth decay in children, proponents claim.
Centerville resident Richard Brown, who organized through his own petition a citywide revote on fluoridation, only to see fluoride approved a second time by about the same vote margin, said it would likely help the cause of fluoride opponents if the commission endorsed the petition.
Brown is encouraged that five of the county”s elected officials signed the petition calling for a countywide revote, including County Commissioner Dan McConkie.
But gaining the commission”s approval for a revote appears to be anything but a slam-dunk.
County Commissioner Michael J. Cragun said the commission has not yet determined how it will vote on the petition as it awaits legal counsel from county Chief Civil Deputy Attorney Gerald Hess.
But Utahns for Better Dental Health officials say they will legally challenge the petition should the commission allow the revote to reach the ballot.
The organization”s attorney, David Irvine, said fluoride opponents followed the wrong section of Utah law when they prepared the petition, needing instead a referendum petition, which requires a filing within 35 days of the passage of the 2000 vote.
“They failed to act on time, and their petition cannot now lawfully be voted on,” he said.
Kaysville resident Dave Hansen, one of 200 citizens who collected signatures for the revote petition, said he believes the threat by Utahns for Better Dental Health is just “bluster,” while he remains uncertain how the commissioners will respond to placing the revote referendum on the ballot because the subject is such a hot potato.
“I don”t think they are going to want to offend either side,” he said.
Should the commission fail to place the referendum on the ballot, Hansen said, the signature petition certified through the clerk/auditor”s office will still force a revote.
“It does not matter to us,” said Hansen, confident the outcome of the revote will be different than the original 2000 referendum. “I have very high confidence this will change.
“If for no other reason, Hansen said, the revote will swing in favor of opponents because of questions centering around the rising cost of implementing fluoridation.
Centerville City leaders have claimed fluoridating its wells will cost $300,000 to $400,000, while Weber Basin Water Conservancy District officials are requesting the health board extend its mid-October deadline to have fluoride in north Davis County until after the revote, to avoid awarding a $700,000 contract for fluoride implementation work that may not be necessary.
“A lot of these opponents are people that have changed their mind since the election,” Hansen said.