BROOKSVILLE (970 WFLA) --Along with all the congressional and statewide races, voters in Brooksville will decide on November 6th whether to keep adding fluoride to the water.
Fluoridation began in the 80s in Brooksville, stopped in 2013, resumed in 2015 and now mayor Betty Erhard hopes the voters will stop it again. She says the city has spent thousands of dollars since 2015, and just wrote a check to the private firm that supplies it.
"It was not only to me about the budget but... the people consenting... I believe not a lot of residents of Brooksville are aware their water is fluoridated," Erhard told Newsradio 970 WFLA.
Dr. Johnny Johnson, who spent a career practicing pediatric dentistry in Pinellas County, is worried that not a lot of Brooksville residents are aware of the referendum. He's been making appearances to get the word out. "People do not know... they are not aware of it whatsoever," Johnson said.
Johnson led a campaign to restore water fluoridation after Pinellas County commissioners voted to take it out in 2011. Three commissioners who voted to remove fluoride were removed by the voters, thanks in part to the efforts of Johnson and the Tampa Bay Times editorial page.
Johnson says of thousands of medical studies conducted since 1945, not one has shown harm at levels of fluoride used in U.S. water systems. He says it helps control tooeh decay in children and adults.
Erhard questions why fluoride must be added to everyone's water. "What about the elderly, the adults? ... If they care about the children, why are they not looking at innovative ways to provide fluoride to the children," she said, including distribution of fluoride tablets.
Johnson says poor people get cavities at twice the rate of the rest of us, and adding fluoride is cheaper and more effective than trying to get people to give their children tablets or make them brush their teeth longer.
A "yes" vote is for keeping fluoride in the water. Voting no is a vote for taking it out.