Fluoride in water fails, 3-2

Robbie Evans
February 27, 2002

A bid to add fluoride to Monroe's drinking water was defeated Tuesday by the Monroe City Council.

After tabling the issue two weeks ago, the City Council voted 3-2 against adding fluoride to the city's drinking water supply.

Council members Red Stevens, Arthur Gilmore and Robert Johnson voted against the ordinance, while Ann Raines and Ben Katz voted to support fluoridation.

"I'm disappointed," Raines said. "I really thought Councilman Johnson would vote for it. I thought he had his questions answered."

The vote came one month after Raines introduced the issue. After hearing two hours of public opinion before a crowd of 100 people at its last meeting, Johnson asked the issue be tabled because of litigation questions he wanted to get answered.

In 1984, the City Council voted in favor of fluoridation. Implementation of the program was stalled when a formed group had 25 percent of registered voters in the city to sign a petition to overturn the ordinance. In such a case, the city charter calls for a repeal of the ordinance or a referendum on the issue.

In 1985, voters defeated the proposition by 13 votes.

Before Tuesday's vote, Johnson said he had additional questions regarding the seriousness of tooth decay in Monroe and the effects of fluoride on older people. Raines tried to tell Johnson those questions had already been addressed during the public hearing earlier this month.

"But the two questions I posed still trouble me," Johnson responded.

Proponents of the issue claim fluoride prevents tooth decay. Opponents claim the chemical compound is a cumulative poison that has adverse health effects.

About 30 people representing both sides of the issue attended Tuesday's council meeting. One supporter, Monroe dentist Dr. David Finley, said he was disheartened by the council's actions.

"We elect councilmen to represent the best interest of the people," Finley said. "I don't feel like these council members have represented the best interest of the city of Monroe."

An opponent of fluoridation, Jerry Mardis of Monroe, said he doesn't believe the issue will arise in Monroe again because of advances in modern research to disprove the benefits of water fluoridation.

"I'm thrilled with it," Mardis said. "I thought they would vote it out tonight."

Raines said she would likely bring the issue back up in about a year.