WATSONVILLE – The final tally on Measure S is in – and it appears those opposed to adding fluoride to the city’s water supply have floated to the top. Still, officials say state law may be the final word in the matter.
After all absentee ballots were tallied, the measure apparently passed with 50.9 percent of the vote, or 3,043 votes. Meanwhile, 2,931 voters – 49.1 percent – said no to the measure. A yes vote on the measure meant a voter opposed fluoridation, while a no vote meant a person supported fluoridating the city’s water.
It remains to be seen whether the new council, to be seated Nov. 26, will stand on the side of local voters or the state mandate that says the city must fluoridate regardless of the public vote.
Nick Bulaich, spokesman for the fluoridation-opposition group Watsonville Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We need to see what the council does,” he said. “One thing is for sure: A law has been passed by the voters here, and I would fully expect the city attorney (and council) to defend that law.”
While City Attorney Alan Smith must wait to see what the council directs him to do, he says the state still mandates that the city fluoridate.
In April, city officials, on a 4-2 vote, accepted a grant of nearly $1 million from the Fluoridation 2010 Work Group to fund the design, purchase and installation of fluoridation treatment equipment and one year of operation and maintenance.
State health officials have said the city is locked into its decision to fluoridate. State Assembly Bill 733 mandates the fluoridation of water systems that have 10,000 or more hookups when funding to do so is provided by a source other than the water agency or the taxpayers the water system serves.
Chuck Carter, one of five council members who supported fluoridation, says he believes some people were confused by the initiative’s wording and that could have affected the outcome.
Dr. Jim Jacobson, a Watsonville orthodontist and fluoridation supporter, agreed. Jacobson is a member of the city’s Dientes! Community Dental Clinic board and the Monterey Bay Dental Society’s Fluoridation Task Force.
Though the initiative did not specifically mention fluoride, the measure was aimed at preventing the city from adding that or other chemicals to the local water supply. Not included were chemicals such as chlorine that make the water safe to drink. Still, the federal Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the addition of fluoride to public water supplies.
Jacobson also believes state mandate will be the final authority in deciding the issue.
“If the state is not going to support its own laws, then any small group of citizens can organize and change state law as they see fit,” Jacobson said.
Fluoride opponent Dan Hernandez, also a member of the Citizens for Safe Drinking Water group, said the state’s money would be better spent on health programs that teach area residents good dental hygiene habits, rather than on fluoridating the city’s water.
“The people have spoken,” Hernandez said. “I hope the council will take that into consideration. But no matter what, we’ll prepare for a lawsuit because that will probably come next.”
Contact Karen A. Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note from Jeff Green, Citizens for Safe Drinking Water:
Once again we see a newspaper create their own facts. You might think that being a reporter would require an ability to read and discern.
The story [above] reports that the FDA does not regulate the addition of fluoride to public water supplies. The fact that this is true has nothing to do with measures that are to be enacted in Redding and Watsonville, CA.
Measure A in Redding, CA, and Measure S in Watsonville, CA require that a substance added to the water FOR THE PURPOSE OF FULFILLING A HEALTH CLAIM must have been approved by the U.S. FDA as safe and effective for fulfilling that health claim at the dosages expected from unrestricted consumption. No entity has the authority to make claims of health and safety for a product without the approval of the FDA.
Once again we must reiterate that these two Measures do not require the FDA to regulate water or water additives. These are specifically excluded by the Measures. However, a manufacturer who attempts to sell a product to fulfill a health claim that has not submitted their product for approval from the FDA should expect that these ordinances will prohibit their use in the drinking water, just as they are supposed to be prohibited for any other distribution.
The media’s repetition of the opinions of the proponents of fluoridation or even the statements by “State Fluoridation Consultants” belong on the opinion page. The omission of facts about the State law and the Measures passed reveal more about the media’s agenda than a true reporting of the actual events.