FARMINGTON – Davis County elected leaders say a judge’s ruling halting the Nov. 5 fluoridation revote is unconstitutional and they may challenge it in court.
County Commissioner Dan McConkie said the ruling handed down by Judge Glen R. Dawson on Monday in 2nd District Court gives him cause for concern based on its constitutional merit. Officials are considering appealing the judge’s ruling to the Utah Court of Appeals or the Utah Supreme Court.
County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings said if an appeal is successful, the fluoridation revote still would not be part of the Nov. 5 general election because the election ballots are already being printed.
“In the appeal we would ask for a special election if it were held up in our favor,” Rawlings said.
After hearing oral arguments Sept. 13 from fluoride proponents and Davis County officials, Dawson ruled that a certified petition containing 9,650 signatures was legally insufficient to force a revote of the fluoridation referendum that voters approved by a 52 to 48 percent margin in November 2000.
Utahns for Better Dental Health, a pro-fluoride group, filed a lawsuit in 2nd District Court in Bountiful against the Davis County Commissioners and Rawlings in an effort to halt the revote.
Davis County Chief Civil Deputy Gerald E. Hess said he believes the complaint by Utahns for Better Dental Health flies in the face of the state constitution which assures voters a voice in government.
But before county officials, who met behind closed doors Tuesday to discuss their next step, can respond to the court ruling, they would like to read it in its entirety.
Hess said he has yet to read Dawson’s written ruling because the prevailing party, in this case Utahns for
Better Dental Health, has yet to make the document available because their attorney, David R. Irvine, is out of town. Fluoride opponents say they want a revote because of voters’ concerns of personal freedoms and the rising costs of implementing fluoridation.
Davis cities that were awaiting the court ruling before spending big dollars for fluoridation equipment will now move forward.
“I would assume we are going to start to proceed,” said Centerville City assistant manager Blaine Lutz, who was surprised by Dawson’s ruling. “We are still under what was voted on two years ago. That, at least, will stand for awhile.”
Dawson’s ruling said state law doesn’t allow a county-by-county vote to remove fluoride from water after fluoridation has been approved.
Getting a revote on the ballot, Lutz said, may require the Legislature to add some type of revote provision to the law it enacted that gives communities the right to fluoridate through a vote.
“With all the political wrangling that has gone on the past two years, nothing has changed,” Lutz said.
Centerville will now spend $700,000 in revenue bonds to buy equipment and build well houses to fluoridate its eight wells, he said.
But Lutz is confident the debate between fluoride proponents and opponents will continue in the meantime. “I think this will go on,” he said.
You can reach reporter Bryon Saxton at 629-5227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.