Philomath City Manager Randy Kugler has issued a formal defense of the city’s actions in publishing anti-fluoride information in its September newsletter.
Kugler was responding to a series of 11 questions from Alana Cox, a compliance specialist with the Oregon Elections Division.
Cox is investigating a complaint filed by Citizens for Healthy Teeth, a political action committee promoting a ballot measure to resume fluoridation of the city’s water supply. The City Council voted unanimously in May to stop adding fluoride to the water and reaffirmed the decision in August.
At issue is whether Philomath officials attempted to influence the outcome of the March 13 election when they published “Fluoride: The Untold Story” in a newsletter that went out with municipal water bills. The lengthy article lays out the council’s rationale for voting to halt the city’s fluoridation program.
In its complaint, Citizens for Healthy Teeth claimed the city knew there would be an election on the matter because it had filed paperwork for an initiative petition with Elections Officer Ruth Post before the newsletter went out on Sept. 30.
But Kugler disputes that assertion in his response, arguing that while initial paperwork was dropped off at Post’s office on Sept. 26, it was incomplete. The completed prospective petition was not filed until 4:35 p.m. on Sept. 30, Kugler wrote in his response, after the newsletters had gone out.
“As late as 3:22 p.m. on Sept. 30, the representative for the chief petitioners still did not know if they would file on that date or not,” he wrote. “The city takes the requirements of (state elections laws) very seriously and made every effort to ensure there were no possible violations upon the complete filing of the prospective initiative petition.”
Addressing other questions from Cox, Kugler said that he co-wrote “Fluoride: The Untold Story” with Mayor Ken Schaudt and City Councilor Matthew Bierek. Kugler said the City Council frequently uses the newsletter to communicate with citizens and that, as city manager, he has final authority over the newsletter’s content.