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The Case

This spring Portland experienced one of the most contentious special elections in recent memory over water fluoridation. While voters disagreed on fluoridation, members from both sides recognized that heightened public awareness of dental health issues provided a rare opportunity to make a difference in Portland.

The Stakeholders
Together with City Club of Portland, some of the key leaders of Portland’s fluoridation debate announced that they are creating a special task force that will bring together both sides of the fluoride debate in the name of children’s dental health. The task force is funded and led by major water fluoridation proponents Northwest Health Foundation and Kaiser Permanente along with Daniel Deutsch, the largest in-state donor for the anti-water-fluoridation campaign. The task force will study the most workable solutions for improving dental health outcomes for children in Multnomah County.
“What excited us most about the campaign was the enthusiasm on all sides of the issue for a solution to Portland’s dental health problems,” said Nichole Maher, President Northwest Health Foundation. “After the election it was clear there were many areas in which the anti-side was actually an ally. It just made sense to reach out and combine forces.”

The task force will examine proven community-based strategies that have improved dental health in other cities. Following the findings of the report, the task force will develop a set of recommendations.

"I truly appreciate the willingness to come together, and find a common purpose, in spite of our being on opposite sides of the debate,” said Deutsch. “In the end, we are working toward the same goal, a healthier Portland. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of this collaboration."

City Club member Carol M. Ford will be facilitating the task force, which will be comprised of three representatives each from the pro- and anti-water-fluoridation sides along with three dental health policy experts. Community members at  large will also be included.

Task Force members will be selected by a committee comprised of: Jesse Beason, NW Health Foundation; Daniel Deutsch, Principal of Leftbank Development; Mike Lindberg, Former Portland City Commissioner; Nicole Pexton, City Club Research Board; Byron Palmer, City Club Research Board

Thank you to our funder, The Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation.

Children's Dental Health Research Committee

  • Carol Ford, Chair
  • Kellie Barnes
  • Cyreena Boston Ashby
  • David Crandall
  • Ed Hurtley
  • Matt Morton
  • Mel Rader
  • Lurelle Robbins
  • Chris Trejbal, writer