|Kellie Barnes speaking at the Race Talks debate on water fluoridation|
Portlanders rejected water fluoridation by a large margin Tuesday, in a special election that brought out just under 36 percent of eligible voters.
Among the other measures on the ballot were: renewing the Portland Children's Levy, a Beaverton Schools Levy and a METRO operating levy. That was in addition to a slate of school and college board positions, and representatives for fire and water districts.
Ending Childhood Hunger and Abuse
The Portland Childrens Levy was passed for another five years, with more than 70 percent support. The property tax levy sends around $10 million a year to efforts to end child abuse, and deliver after-school, summer and mentoring programs to at-risk children.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman has led the effort to send city support to children in need.
"I am very grateful to Portland voters for reaffirming their support in making children a higher priority in our city," he said, "by investing in proven programs that are making a difference in young people's lives and helping to keep them safe and successful."
Saltzman said this year the program added a new focus: combating the serious problem of childhood hunger.
"We are figuring out how to make a serious contribution in ending hunger."
The water fluoridation measure was rejected by a margin of more than 20 percent.
Healthy Kids Healthy Portland, supported by practically every mainstream and minority health organization in the city, said fluoridation would be an important step toward improving dental health for children. The Centers for Disease Control calls fluoridation one of the top 20 medical advances of our time.
But Clean Water Portland, which opposed fluoridation, raised questions about the need to add the mineral to Portland water and framed the issue as government forcing a risky medication on an unwilling populace. Naturopaths and other alternative health groups also opposed fluoridation.
Kellie Barnes a spokesperson for Clean Water Portland, which led the anti-fluoridation campaign, said the result is still unofficial but she was excited by the decisive numbers.
"I want to thank the voters for doing their own research and seeing that the emerging science gives a reasonable basis for concern for our children and for vulnerable populations."
Barnes said she is interested being part of the discussion about other solutions to the problem of poor dental health especially among low-income children.
"The supporters of fluoridation from what they are talking about today are regrouping and looking at what these other alternatives are—for example the pilot dental therapists program that the state has legislated. That's a very cost-effective way to allow access for more of our children in need… It's been very successful in Alaska and Minnesota and in particular for low-income families."
Chris Kabel, of the Northwest health Foundation said it was too early to say if the pro-fluoride campaign would try again.
"What we do know is that we must act to address the well-documented oral health crisis in Portland, and we look forward to working with a diverse range of partners to implement other evidence-based strategies."
|Kali Thorne Ladd has been elected to the Portland Community College Board|
The METRO natural resources levy passed. It will allow METRO to maintain and improve natural areas across the region and to improve water quality for fish.
"We deeply appreciate the confidence shown by our region's residents, who value these special places and the fish and wildlife that depend on them," said Metro Council President Tom Hughes in a statement.
And Jim Desmond, Metro's Sustainability Center Director, said the results show public awareness has grown when it comes to problems such as invasive species. Voters in suburban areas, however, were less enthusiastic about the levy than Portland voters, even though the parks it will support are largely closer to the suburbs.
Work is due to begin this summer at Blue Lake Park, Oxbow Park, Creek Canyon Natural Area in Oregon City, Killin Wetlands in Washington County, and River Island Natural Area on the Clackamas River.
Beaverton Schools Levy
The Beaverton Schools levy passed by a margin of more than 10 percent, delighting school board members and teachers. The district was forced to cut 344 teacher positions this year. The levy will fund 151 teachers for the 2013-14 school year.
PPS: Steve Buel Ousts Martin Gonzalez
In the Portland School Board contests, longtime Portland Public Schools board member Martin Gonzalez lost his seat to former board member and retired teacher, Steve Buel.
Buel says funds should be focused on positions that work directly with students and on reducing class sizes. Other issues he highlights are the changing role of principals, unstable enrollment boundaries and discipline.
"There is a huge disparity from school to school of the baseline behavior for the kids who attend different schools," he says on his website. "This just means that at some schools creating a positive environment takes a lot more work, effort and focus than another school may. But we have to expend the energy necessary to give all of our children a good learning experience. All of our children. The district needs to support and help these efforts."
Pam Knowles and Tom Koehler were also elected to Portland Public Schools board.
Portland Community College
In a landslide with more than 70 percent of votes, Kali Thorne Ladd won the race for the Portland Community College Zone 2 Director position. She has been serving in the seat since the death of longtime community college advocate Harold Williams Sr. Jim Harper was elected to Zone 4, and Ken Madden to Zone 5. Ladd, a former aide to Sam Adams, championed the city's summer education programs. Read our Q&A with the new PCC Director.
Former Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto was elected to Multnomah Educational Service District.
To see a comprehensive list of the elections results visit Multnomah County Elections website.