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Portland voters say no to fluoridation

June 03, 2013

By Stacie Crozier, ADA News staff

Portland, Ore.—The city of Portland will remain unfluoridated.

Unofficial returns show that voters May 21 rejected a bid to fluoridate by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent.

The special ballot marked the first time in three decades that residents voted on the issue. In 1980, voters repealed a 1978 voter-approved decision to add fluoride to the water. Fluoride was never added to the city's water supply.

In the latest debate, the Portland City Council approved a plan to fluoridate the water in September 2012 but those opposed to it quickly organized and successfully gathered enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot for 2014.

In January, the city council voted to expedite a water fluoridation vote, setting it for this May, a year earlier than planned.

Since the city council approved a fluoridation plan in 2012, a contentious and emotional campaign on both sides of the issue developed, which attracted national media attention. The initial momentum seemed to be with Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland, a pro-fluoridation coalition of more than 100 community organizations that raised some $850,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to conduct an informational campaign for the election. Clean Water Portland, a group representing fluoridation opponents, raised significantly less money, about $270,000. In the end, voters rejected the ballot measure, keeping Portland as one of the most populated U.S. cities not to provide residents the benefit of community water fluoridation.