Texas-side city officials unanimously agreed at a meeting Monday night to conduct a citywide public hearing they will hold in conjunction with the Texarkana, Ark., Board of Directors from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 14 at a site yet to be determined.
“This has been the most controversial issue in all the time that I have served on the council,” said City Mayor James Bramlett. “After hearing the community express their views, I believe it’s a toss up … it’s 50-50, and because of that, I feel that it is in the best interest of the city that we put this issue on the November ballot to be voted on by the public.”
Consequently, Bramlett recommended that the council take a vote at the Sept. 16 meeting on whether to put fluoridation on the November ballot.
Wards 1 and 2 Councilmember Derrick McGary and Willie Ray agreed.
“After giving it a lot of thought, I believe the only fair thing to do is to let the people decide (this issue),” said McGary.
Though Ward 3 Councilmember Christie Adams said she has no problem letting the public decide, she expressed concerns on whether they would make an informed decision.
“I have over 400 signatures in support of fluoridation and that far exceeds the number of people who have contacted me who are against it,” said Adams. “I’m never against letting the people decide, but I’m concerned that the people won’t have the benefit of all the research that we (the council) have had, and that they might make their decision based on incorrect information that has filtered down through the community.”
Bramlett, too, echoed Adams’ concerns, stating that people should make an effort to educate themselves before making a decision.
“There is an abundant amount of information on the Internet about fluoride and fluoridation and for those who don’t have Internet access, they can use the computers at the library,” said Ward 6 Council Member Bradley Hardin.
Bramlett also extended an invitation to citizens of the surrounding cities that get their water from Texarkana Water Utilities.
“I have heard some concerns from people from those member cities, so I want to make sure they know they are welcome to the forum,” said Bramlett.
Even though the member cities–which include New Boston, Hooks, DeKalb, Wake Village and Maud in Bowie County and Avery and Annona in Red River County–are invited to the public forum, ultimately they won’t have an official say on the issue.