Letter | We just want democracy when it comes to fluoride

ON Tuesday evening, July 17, I attended the Oberon Council meeting where the decision was made to fluoridate the town water supply.

I had to leave the meeting prior to the vote taking place as I was leaving the next morning for a short holiday and I had yet to pack my bag.

Over the last few months there has been a gathering of how the people of Oberon felt about having their water supply fluoridated. We all respect that we may have different views, however the percentage of 69 per cent saying no is a significant number.

Democracy is what we ask from all levels of government: federal, state and local. Democracy is provided by allowing the community to have their say and representatives from all three levels of government should never forget the reason they have been elected.

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All we, the people, ask for is democracy. We are tired of being told how to live and what to do without any consideration for our point of view.

I had been speaking with our mayor Kathy Sajowitz well before the decision night and I had told her that I knew, along with many other residents in Oberon, how the vote would go.

I was also prepared to provide the names of who would vote for and those who would vote against.

I had not been attending council meetings and so the information I had was from the people of Oberon and I was told the vote would go 5 to 4 for fluoridating the water supply. At that early time, it was not known that Cr Doney would not be there.

I wonder whether we here in Oberon have extrasensory powers or are we able to read minds? I will leave the decision on this up to you, the readers.

The mayor had assured me that it was impossible for people to know how the vote would go because there had been no discussion on the matter of fluoridation.

And yet the information was correct and even the names were correct, excluding Cr Doney.

Could it be that perhaps the information sessions was where councillors had been having some discussion, because there has been nothing in council business papers?

Are you aware that council holds information sessions prior to the council meeting? I am told it is not obligatory for councillors to attend the information sessions. I am also told the community cannot attend these sessions.

On the morning of July 18, I sent off an email to our mayor letting her know I was sadly disappointed and angry.

I was angry because it is not so long ago that there was a battle going on in Oberon to save our local government and we were saying we wanted our own local government so we could have real democracy.

Do you believe our local government care about what the people wanted? When around 70 per cent – and the correct figure, it seems, is only 69 per cent – said no to the fluoride being added to the town water supply.

Councillors, we fought the state government and we fought for democracy and the right to have our own local government which would represent the views of the community.

Councillors, can you now see that we believe we have been duped? Duped because it seems you fell at the first hurdle. It seems to us that you have forgotten all the promises you made and the most important matter of all to represent the views of the community.

Democracy is decided on by the majority and the majority was 69 per cent.

I spoke with our mayor some time back when this issue first came to light and suggested if ever there was an issue that needed a public meeting, it was fluoride.

Council, it seems, were only going to survey those who attended the strategic plan meetings held in Oberon, Black Springs, Burraga and O’Connell.

Generally, these special meetings have not been proven to be a real crowd-gatherer.

It took the group fighting against fluoridation to get the council forms out to people so they could have their say and then it seems the 300 or so people surveyed by phone was more important.

I was one who was phone surveyed and can anyone tell why they had to know what education standard you had reached?

Does it require tertiary education to know if you drink town water or not?

I ask readers to look at the names of those who voted yes to fluoridate Oberon’s water supply: mayor Kathy Sajowitz, Andrew McKibbin, Don Capel, Mark Kellam and Mick McKechnie.

Did you vote for these councillors? Did you expect that they would provide democracy and represent the views of the majority?

Do you feel these councillors knew what the community wanted?

Now look at the councillors who voted no to fluoridate Oberon’s water supply: deputy mayor Kerry Gibbons, Clive McCarthy and Brenda Lyon. We believe Ian Doney would most likely have voted with these three (at least that is what was told by the mind-readers).

Did you vote for these councillors? I believe these three considered the majority views of the community.

A special thanks to Brenda Lyon, who on the night of the vote asked questions and spoke well. Thank you, Brenda (even though without a microphone it was difficult to hear you properly).

I can only say I am saddened and disappointed. My faith and trust in our local government is, for the time being, shattered. Perhaps we are lucky it is only a three year term.

I had hoped for better - no, more than that, I wanted better. I wanted the councillors to represent the majority view of the people of Oberon. To show the state government we are a force to be reckoned with. We will fight for our rights and our right to choice.

I heard one speaker on the night say those who do not want the water fluoridated can buy bottled water.

Those who do want fluoride can always purchase good fluoride toothpaste (however, be warned, a pharmacist might not want to sell it to you, especially if the town water supply is fluoridated) or visit a dentist and have a topical application applied directly to your teeth (and this way you do not remove any person’s right to choice).

Fluoride is not the magical fix-it-all. You still need to have good dental health and not eat or drink the wrong foods or liquids.

Marjorie Armstrong