Fluoride Action Network

“World is watching” Plainville

Source: The Sun Chronicle | Sun Chronicle Staff
Posted on March 30th, 2002

The world truly awaits the results of Monday’s fluoridation vote in Plainville.

Individuals from Australia to Oregon have sent letters to the editor to The Sun Chronicle this winter to reinforce the critics’ campaign in town.

In contrast, advocates have received written support primarily from area and state dental professionals. But advocates say the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society are behind them.

The trends don’t surprise the local fluoride campaign leaders.

“ People that fight this issue strongly believe in it,” said Mary Gibeault, president of the anti-fluoridation Plainville Citizens for Safe Drinking Water.

“ They strongly believe in it because the science is there. But they have such an uphill battle, and they get so frustrated with it that they keep an eye out for it. They want to stop this across the world.”

“ We got more statements and letters locally than we needed,” said Pamela Wood of the pro-fluoride Plainville Citizens for Oral Health. “ We don’t need to go outside of the local area to find support. Obviously, they (opponents) do.”

The fluoridation referendum, which affects Plainville and North Attleboro, has the greatest implications among the annual town election votes scheduled for Monday in those towns, as well as Wrentham, Rehoboth and Seekonk.

No other question affects more than one town.

North Attleboro election officials expect an election turnout of 40 percent.

Rehoboth officials say an election usually draws 900 voters, but a referendum and a high-profile race for town clerk that features an incumbent selectman might improve the turnout.

North Attleboro has six questions on its ballot, including tax overrides for a new police station, Community School renovations, and renovating and expanding the public works building.

Plainville, Wrentham and Rehoboth have one question each. Whether to adopt the state’s Community Preservation Act is before voters in Rehoboth, as well as North Attleboro.

Wrentham has a non-binding question on whether the board of health should totally ban smoking in restaurants and bars.

Global audience

But only the fluoridation question has attracted a global audience, rare during town elections.

In e-mails this week, critics from Oregon and Hawaii told The Sun Chronicle the worldwide interest in Plainville’s vote isn’t shocking.

They hoped their letters would round out the information provided by the local campaign. Theirs and other letters from out of state have not appeared in the newspaper due to space constraints. Fluoridation generated a large number of letters from local community members on both sides of the issue.

“ I don’t think my opinion should matter to the voters of Plainville,” wrote Bob Briggs of Kailua, Hawaii. “ Likewise, they should not rely on the `opinions’ of the promoters. I have not provided opinions. I have provided some indisputable facts which the voters may not be aware of.”

“ When fluoridation was considered in my hometown, I quickly learned how poorly informed members of my own, economically advantaged community were,” wrote Lynne Campbell, executive director of Oregon Citizens for Safe Drinking Water.

“ I was grateful to find knowledgeable people in other states, and sometimes other countries, who could help guide me through the process of uncovering and understanding truthful information.”

Briggs and Campbell said they haven’t had contact with Gibeault, who leads Plainville’s anti-fluoridation effort.

But they believe few voters in town are fully aware of the information against fluoridation. Briggs based his opinion on reading articles, editorials and letters in The Sun Chronicle in recent months.

Besides the ballot questions, voters in Plainville, North Attleboro, Rehoboth, Seekonk and Wrentham on Monday will settle several contests for town offices.

In North Attleboro, 20 candidates seek nine positions on the proposed charter commission. There also are races for selectman, school committee, planning board, electric commission and park commission.

In Seekonk, five candidates are competing for two 3-year terms on the board of selectmen. It’s the lone contest on the ballot.

Wrentham’s ballot includes four races: selectmen, health board, planning board and library trustee. All are for three-year terms except for the planning board seat, which is for two years.
In Plainville, three-year terms for selectmen, health board and water and sewer commissioners are contested.