"We're disappointed of course," said Dave Hansen, chair of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water and a fluoride opponent who spearheaded the initiative petition drive which got the issue on the ballot the second time. "For all the work we did we got only 1 percent more of the vote."
Beth Beck, a fluoride proponent and chair of Utahns for Better Dental Health -- Davis, held a different view, of course. "We're very happy. We look at this as a great, huge victory."
Hansen said that fluoride foes will now have to address the issue from another angle. He doesn't see them launching another initiative petition drive. He doesn't see it appearing on the ballot again four years from now.
Beck said that after two losses fluoride foes will have to reconsider the facts.
Both sides admitted that this year's ballot was a well-fought campaign.
Fluoride foes brought in nationally known speakers to give credence to their view that fluoride doesn't really help fight dental caries, and in fact, is harmful to health.
But fluoride proponents countered with the continued support of major medical and dental organizations and the fact that much of the water supply nationwide is fluoridated.
One of the major points brought out by fluoride proponents was that all the equipment has been paid for and is in operation. "I always thought about the pumps," Beck said. "We have all that state-of-the-art equipment and if we had to turn it off, it would have been a real sad day."
Fluoride opponents, though, said that even though the equipment has been paid for, if it had been turned off, it would have saved the county some $500,000 in maintenance and operation.
Both sides accused the other of less than aboveboard tactics. Hansen said volunteers blanketed the county with flyers and signs, but some had their No Fluoride signs stolen two and three times. Beck said the fluoride foes brought in "questionable messengers" to spread their word.
See additional election coverage on pages A4 and A15.