Fluoride foes want more action from Port Angeles council

PORT ANGELES — Fluoridation opponents spent little time basking in victory over a Nov. 7 general election advisory ballot that recommends the city’s municipal water supply should stay unfluoridated, which it has been since August 2016.

They want the Port Angeles City Council to guarantee fluorosilicic acid will stay out of the water by passing a resolution making it so, anti-fluoridation activist Mike Libera said Wednesday.

But Mayor Patrick Downie said Wednesday that’s not necessary and wants the city to move on, past a fluoridation controversy that dominated City Council meetings in 2016 until August of that year, when the City Council decided fluoridation should stop, pending the results of Tuesday’s advisory ballot.

The measure had 55 percent, or 1,838 voters, saying no to fluoridation and 45 percent, or 1,487, saying yes, as of Tuesday night’s count, with more votes to tabulate today.

“The council will be guided by the results of this ballot in deciding whether to resume fluoridation,” according to the measure.

Libera, vice chair of the anti-fluoridation group Our Water, Our Choice!, said Wednesday the advisory ballot results are not enough.

He said he expects “lobbyists” to beseech the council to add fluorosilicic acid back to the water system for dental health reasons that Libera disputes.

He also expects fluoridation opponents to urge City Council members at upcoming council meetings to pledge, by way of a resolution, to not fluoridate the city’s water supply.

Libera compared fluoride to tobacco and recalled tobacco executives who at one time insisted tobacco was not unhealthy.

“These things get debated endlessly, and finally they disappear,” Libera said.

“I’m absolutely hoping [council members] pass a resolution” against fluoridation, he added, so “that snake shall not rise again.”

He said he hopes future councils “consider this such a hot-potato issue that no one will pick it up for fear of burning themselves.”

The city of Port Angeles was under a 10-year contract with the Dental Service Foundation that expired in May 2016. The contract required the city to fluoridate the water or pay $400,000 in fluoridation system costs.

Downie switched from the pro-fluoridation side to vote to advocate ending fluoridation in August 2016 pending the advisory ballot election. The council approved that.

Downie said Wednesday an anti-fluoridation resolution is unnecessary.

Council members have said they will honor the results, he said.

“I don’t think we need to do much of anything right now,” he said. “I don’t feel we need another resolution to do this.

“I guess [Libera] is uneasy and untrusting of what we would do.”

Libera said he was not surprised by the results of the advisory ballot.

“It’s what I predicted, and I’m glad it worked out that way,” he said.

Clallam County Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Frank was disappointed.

“Obviously, from a public health perspective, this is disappointing, because we know that community water fluoridation is a cost-effective and safe way to improve oral health,” he said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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