Portland, Clackamas voters remain divided

Voters in Portland line up to drop off their ballots, May 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News/Jim Larson)
Voters in Portland line up to drop off their ballots, May 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News/Jim Larson)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Election officials in Portland expect more votes for this special election than in previous years. As the election comes down to the final hours, people continue to debate the topic of fluoride.

“I just don’t feel like it should be an overall water supply,” Jason Britsas said.

“I have a 6-year-old with a mouth full of cavities and it’s not due to a lack of care on our part,” Kelly Skelton said.

A water fountain in Portland (File)
A water fountain in Portland (File)

Both sides campaigned vigorously. Clean Water Portland spent more than $280,000 opposing the plan, while Healthy Kids spent more than $877,000 to mobilize the supporters.

Despite being outspent, opponents like Britsas believe there’s ways to get their message out.

“It seems with the outreach that we have with all the community systems that there’d be a way to actually reach the people who actually need it rather than those making those who don’t need have to have it,” he said.

He thinks fluoride in the water supply would affect everything from food to plants to pets. Some pet owners are even considering feeding their pets bottled water to avoid any risk of toxins.

Darin Richards walks dogs for a living and has heard all the concerns. But when it comes to his personal feelings, he voted for fluoride.

“People around here are pretty fanatic about their pets. They probably don’t want it in their water,” he said. “I think there are only two states left that don’t fluoridate their water, so I think if there was a big problem I think we would know about it by now.”

Election officials said they will have most of the ballots counted by 8 p.m.

Punky Scott owns the Bomber Restaurant in Oak Grove in Clackamas County. She’s opposed to the idea to sell park property and authorize funds for a TriMet expansion in the county.

Punky Scott owns the Bomber Restaurant in Oak Grove, May 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Punky Scott owns the Bomber Restaurant in Oak Grove, May 21, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

“I see a majority of people not in favor of the light rail at all,” she told KOIN 6 News, hours before the deadline to turn in ballots. “I think they’re going to do it anyway. I’m sorry to see that happen, but at least people are getting out to express their opinions about it. And if there’s any way to stop it, I’d sure be in favor of it.”

She believes the project is too expensive and that ridership from the county isn’t going to be big enough. She also fears further expansion of the line could put her long time family restaurant out of business.

But Deborah Atlee supports the plan.

“Milwaukie is kind of dying here,” Atlee said. “Restaurants are closing and, you know, bring more business here.”

Construction near her home isn’t ideal, she said, but feels there are long-term benefits to bringing light rail to the community.

“We’re kind of a dying neighborhood right now, you know, this area, Oak Grove, Milwaukie, Gladstone,” she said. “I’m all for it.”

Even if the funding measures fail in Clackamas County, it’s a moot point because the county is contractually obligated to pay for light rail expansion.


Follow this story on KOIN.com:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s