Wellington City voters will not be voting this November whether or not to continue the fluoridation of municipal water.
The council did not have a majority required to pass an ordinance which would have placed fluoridation as a referendum during the Nov. 4 general election.
The vote ended in a 3-3 deadlock with Mayor Roger Stallbaumer declining to cast the needed fourth vote to pass the ordinance. Those voting “yes” for an election vote were John Tracy, Jim Valentine and Jan Korte. Those voting “no” against putting it on the ballot was Vince Wetta, John Brand and Kelly Green.
Wellington has been fluoridating its water supply since Jan. 3, 1980 when it was passed by an ordinance. For the past 34 years, Wellington has put in one part fluoride to a million parts water.
Tracy said at a work session a month ago that fluoridation needed to be approved by the voters because recently there was interest by several individuals hoping to end the practice.
At Tuesday’s meeting he stated:
“I have received some correspondence in favor (of a vote) and correspondence against. To me it is not an issue if fluoride is good, but about giving the public a choice. One of the e-mails I received said it best, ‘the communities that fluoridate the water by ordinance instead of public vote is effectively medicating our citizens without their permission.’ I couldn’t agree more.”
“I respect your position, but that is a gross exaggeration saying that we are medicating the public.”
He then read several health studies for the fluoridation of water which included endorsements from the American Dental Association, the Center of Disease Control, U.S. Surgeon General’s office, and Oral Health America.
“I don’t think this should go to a public vote because the people it protects the most are the people who can’t vote because they are not old enough,” Brand said.
Valentine asked how long they have been putting fluoride in toothpaste and Dr. Gwen Stalcup, who was in the audience, said since the 1950s.
When the vote was taken, Stallbaumer had to break the tie and immediately voted no. But City Attorney Mike Brown and interim City Manager Shane Shields had to confer for a few minutes whether or not a mayor can cast a negative vote according to Kansas State Statute.
It was determined a mayor can only cast a positive vote. Stallbaumer then stated: “I decline to say yes.”