PORTLAND – Proponents of fluoride conceded Tuesday evening after the measure was losing with close to 60 percent of voters opposing it.
After 129,663 ballots were counted in Multnomah County, and 160,769 ballots returned, any hope for fluoride passing was gone Tuesday night.
Turnout in Multnomah County was near 36 percent, which was high for an off-year election.
The Portland City Council voted for fluoridation last fall. But an anti-fluoride group collected enough signatures to put it to a vote. Votes in three previous elections have rejected it.
"We again are really excited about it. Our volunteers have really done a lot of work. We’re all grass roots," said Kellie Barnes with Clean Water Portland after hearing the results.
"I think what happened was they had a much simpler message 'no'... It's very difficult to fight against a campaign that can fight or say anything they want," said Alejandro Queral with Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland.
Phone canvassers on Monday were working at Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland -- the pro-fluoride campaign. They also had people going door to door. Clean Water Portland, the anti-fluoride campaign, was also working the voters in the final hours, arguing fluoride is not healthy.
City Code specifies that a referendum measure should be placed on the ballot at the next biennial primary or general election unless public interest in a prompt resolution of the question outweighs the costs associated with a special election.