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September 19th, 2012 12:01 am AARON MESH | Elections

One Question: Should Portland Have OK’d Fluoridation Without a Vote of the People?

news3_onequestion_3846ILLUSTRATION: Amy Martin

The Portland City Council voted unanimously Sept. 12 to fluoridate Portland’s water by mid-2014. Foes, seeking to refer the question to voters, say the council acted without regard to public opinion. We ask the candidates for mayor: Did the council do the right thing?

Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland):

No. “We should have done one of two things. One is have a citizen jury process—a group of people not limited to the most ardent proponents or opponents, that has the time to peel back the veneer on the science, get deeper than email subject headings, and look at data. Actually do taste tests, rely on credible information, and make a recommendation. If their recommendation had some air of consensus, then we could spare the expense of a public vote. If their reasoned recommendation were as cacophonous as the Twitter postings, then the city referring it to the voters would have been an appropriate step.”

Charlie Hales: 

Yes. “I think the scientific evidence is very clear and overwhelming. It’s always important to have a good, deliberative process and give people a fair hearing. Then if some folks disagree, they can go to the ballot with an initiative petition. And I guess that’s what some people are planning to do. I don’t think it should be referred by the council. And I don’t plan to sign the petition. But certainly people have a right to send that out for a vote. It’s controversial. There’s some folks that might send it to the ballot. But I support the decision the council’s made.”

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