Portland commissioners may move for early vote on fluoridation

Portland commissioners may move for early vote on fluoridation »Play Video
A protestor is removed from city hall during a City Council vote on whether to add fluoride to city water in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. The City Council approved a plan to add fluoride to Portland's water, but those opposed gathered enough signatures to force a public vote. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland City Council will try to finish their agenda for the year today and one of the first items on the list is putting water fluoridation on the ballot earlier than planned.
Councilors unanimously voted to add fluoride to Portland’s water to protect our teeth but protesters gathered enough signatures to put it on the 2014 ballot.
Now, Commissioner Randy Leonard says a vote on the measure can't wait that long and the city council may vote Thursday to put it on the May 2013 ballot.

The issue of water fluoridation has been a contentious one for the city. Commissioner Nick Fish said he couldn't remember an issue that brought out so much passion on both sides.

A recent poll showed voters almost evenly split on the issue.

Fish, who co-sponsored the plan, has said more than 200 million Americans drink water with added fluoride, and it doesn't appear to have caused great harm.

Most mainstream health organizations, such as the American Medical Association and American Dental Association, endorse it as safe.

In September, police had to remove unruly protesters for yelling, swearing, hissing and disrupting a vote by the Portland City Council, which unanimously approved adding fluoride to the city's drinking water.

City councilors argued it's Portland's responsibility to protect childrens' health. Medical experts say it's a safe and effective way to keep teeth healthy.

"Reasonable people can disagree, but the science is on the side of fluoridation," said Mayor Sam Adams.

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

They also said council members rushed into action without a public vote. Now, it appears that vote could be moved up.