BROOKSVILLE - After months of discussion, countless emails of statistics and academic research - even a visit from an internationally-known critic - Brooksville City Council voted to add fluoride back into the city's water supply.
The 4-1 vote Monday night was less divided than earlier in the year, when Vice Mayor Kevin Hohn said he believed there must be a better way to prevent tooth decay than fluoridated water, and Council member Joe Bernardini expressed some concern and asked for more information before making up his mind.
Mayor Lara Bradburn cast the lone dissenting vote Monday night, saying she didn't think they'd had the opportunity to talk about it enough.
"It's not an issue of fluoride. It's an issue of whether or not we ingest, unnecessarily a product that should be a choice to consume," Bradburn said.
Bradburn also said fluoride is a dangerous and toxic substance, so much so the city and city taxpayers should not be burdened with the "liability." Bradburn said fluoride leaks have caused water contamination, killed fish and burned through storage containers, and accused the Florida Department of Health of misrepresenting the seriousness of the additive.
Numerous dentists and representatives of the health department, including spokeswoman Ann-Gayl Ellis, attended the meeting.
Brooksville added fluoride to the city water supply from 1986 through 2011. Communities have been adding the naturally-occuring mineral to water supplies for about 70 years as a way to prevent tooth decay.
Bradburn also said about three local dentists have privately expressed their concern for fluoride to her, but refuse to speak publicly for fear of losing their license.
Last month, Council set aside $10,000 to pay for fluoride pending a vote. City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said it will take about 30-45 days to implement the change.
After the meeting, Douglas Roth, a local dentist who has attended numerous recent meetings to express his support for fluoride, said the vote stands up to "junk science" and will benefit the children of Brooksville.
Johnny Johnson, an outspoken dentist from Palm Harbor who has frequently addressed council, said he was "thrilled" for Brooksville residents, and said fluoride will help reduced the number of severe pain and cavities.