Fluoride opponents push issue onto 2014 ballot

Fluoride opponents push issue onto 2014 ballot
Kathleen Courian-Sanchez shows her sentiments during a City Council vote at City Hall on whether to add fluoride to city water in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. The City Council approved a plan Wednesday to add fluoride to Portland's water, meaning Oregon's biggest city is no longer the largest holdout in the U.S. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Residents opposed to adding fluoride to Portland's water supply have turned in enough signatures to place the issue before voters in May of 2014, according to a report released Thursday by the office of City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade.

Portland City Commissioners voted unanimously in September to add fluoride to the water.

Before the vote, raucous city council meetings were typically packed with citizens, many voicing loud opposition to the fluoridation plan. Recent polling on the issue by KATU News indicated voters are split on their support or opposition.

Local politicians have said it has been one of the most contentious issues in recent memory.

According to the press release, "the signature verification process was completed by the Multnomah County Elections Office" on November 7 and opponents of fluoridation turned in over 33,000 valid signatures. Only 19,858 were required.

Over 43,000 signatures were turned in, opposition groups said.

Portland is one of the last major cities in the United States to not add fluoride to their water supply. Proponents claim it is harmless and helps prevent tooth decay in children.

Opponents disputed whether fluoride is safe and said adding the mineral to drinking water violates a person's right to consent to medication.

In voting for fluoridation, Mayor Sam Adams said that "science is on the side of fluoridation."

The vote will take place May 20, 2014, unless a special election is needed before that time, according to the Auditor's office.