Elections: Palm Harbor Dentists Smiling About Fluoride's Future In Pinellas County
Dr. Johnny Johnson and Dr. Oscar Menendez used tooth costumes, a billboard and the Internet to let people know they wanted voters to get rid of commissioners who removed fluoride from the county's water. Their strategy worked.
Two Palm Harbor dentists' goal of getting fluoride back into Pinellas County's drinking water appears to be one step closer to becoming a reality.
Pediatric dentist Dr. Johnny Johnson spent most of Election Day wearing a tooth costume at an East Lake polling location, hoping to convince people to vote Pinellas County Commissioners Nancy Bostock and Neil Brickfield out of office because the pair oppose having fluoride in drinking water and voted to have it removed.
Prior to the election, Dr. Oscar Menendez paid for a billboard on U.S. 19 that also called for change. "Want Fluoride? Good Leadership? ELECT Janet Long & Charlie Justice for County Commissioner," it said.
Voters apparently agree with the dentists. Brickfield and Bostock were voted out of office Tuesday. Their successors, Janet Long and Charlie Justice, both support putting fluoride back in drinking water.
"Our whole agenda was to reverse the tragic mistake in removing fluoride," Menendez told Patch after the election.
"It was poor leadership on commissioners' part by dismissing all reasonable thoughts and science. So they paid for it. ... My reaction was absolute joy. The most important thing was the people came together and expressed their view," he said.
"We're not happy that two people lost their jobs. But, we're happy residents will have the benefits of water fluoridation," said Johnson, who lives in East Lake and has his dental practice in Palm Harbor.
Johnson says this was the first time he has become politically active. The website for his dental practice also urged voters to elect Long and Justice with the following message:
Credible scientific studies show that water fluoridation reduces cavities by 25 percent above and beyond the effects of fluoridated toothpaste, rinses and varnishes. Scientific evidence provided for the commissioners shows the many ways fluoride benefits children and adults alike. On a community level, the neediest of this protection, those living at poverty or well below the poverty levels, will suffer from this decision.- Dr. Johnny Johnson's website
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