Fluoride Action Network

Redding’s citizens gather enough signatures to force city vote

Source: Record Searchlight | May 12th, 2002 | by Jim Schultz

The leader of a grass-roots campaign opposing the city’s effort to fluoridate Redding’s drinking water says the group has more than enough signatures on petitions to put the issue before voters in November.

Michel Czehatowski, chairman of Redding Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, said last week that the petitions will be submitted to the Redding city clerk’s office by the June 10 deadline.

“Because this is a public health issue, people should be allowed to vote on it,” he said.

Czehatowski, a 46-year-old licensed acupuncturist and owner of East Earth Trade Winds in the Cobblestone Shopping Center on Churn Creek Road, said signatures from 10 percent of the city’s registered voters, or 4,048, are needed to force a ballot measure for the November election.

And, he said, his group now has more than 5,000 signatures — and continues to add more — to ensure the issue will go to voters.

“There’s a lot of support out there” against fluoridation, he said.

The petition drive began before Christmas, and about 35 volunteers, armed with voter-registration rolls, have been collecting signatures at shopping malls, grocery stores and door-to-door, he said.

The Redding City Council is waiting for a study that would determine how much it would cost to fluoridate the city’s drinking water. The Shasta Oral Health Task Force, a coalition of about 45 health professionals and educators, has lined up more than $1 million in grants for the specialized pumps and pipes that would be needed.

The issue has generated huge interest from fluoride opponents and supporters alike since September, when the City Council voted 4-1 to endorse fluoridation to help fight tooth decay.

Opponents claim adding fluoride to the city’s drinking water could pose health risks. Its supporters, including public health officials, say the dosage would be so small that no such risk would occur, and that it would help prevent tooth decay in children.

Redding City Clerk Connie Strohmayer said Tuesday that once the petitions are delivered they would be turned over to Shasta County election officials to verify within 30 days the validity of the signatures.

If there are enough signatures to force an election, she said, the Redding City Council would decide whether to place the issue before voters or simply scrap the fluoridation plan.