A group of Santa Fe city councilors who said they want voters to decide whether the city should add fluoride to drinking water no longer plans to put the issue on a ballot, Councilor Bill Dimas said Tuesday.
But it’s still not clear what the next step in the city’s decision-making process will be.
The city Finance Committee on Tuesday recommended approval of the most recent proposal from Councilor Chris Calvert, which would continue fluoridation for a period of three years. But the committee also voted Tuesday to stall a planned Oct. 30 public hearing so that the full City Council can also consider a proposal to stop adding fluoride immediately.
Whichever decision is made, Calvert noted, most of the city’s water comes from a joint city/county Rio Grande diversion that is governed by a board of directors. That board would also have to vote to stop fluoridating water before the practice could be dropped.
Dimas and Councilors Chris Rivera, Carmichael Dominguez and Ron Trujillo said two weeks ago that they wanted to put the issue before voters during the next municipal election in 2014. Dimas said at Tuesday’s committee meeting that the idea was no longer on the table. Councilors never formally introduced the ballot proposal in writing.
Although Calvert has changed his position on the issue several times this summer, he said Tuesday that he believes his current proposal is superior to the previous ones because it calls for the city to conduct a campaign to improve oral health in children and increase education about alternatives to fluoridated water.
Those opposed to fluoridation have said ingesting the substance is bad for human health. Dentists say fluoridated water helps fight cavities because it has a topical effect in washing over the teeth when someone drinks the water.
Councilor Patti Bushee and Dimas said they will sponsor the measure calling for the city to stop adding fluoride.