Last year, the Pinellas County Commission voted 4-3 to remove fluoride from the county's water supply. The vote was one of the most controversial decisions mad by a local government in Tampa Bay politics in the past decade. It came eight years after Pinellas finally opted to add the chemical into the water supply, and the intense pressure from Tea Party activists who presented their ideas at County Commission meetings played no small part.
But the blowback to that vote has been tremendous. Democrats Charlie Justice and Janet Long used the issue front and center in their recent campaign to get elected to the board, defeating two of the four commissioners who voted to ban fluoride — Republicans Nancy Bostock and Neil Brickfield.
The two other commissioners who voted to ban flouride — John Morroni and Norm Roche — publicly said they would back away from their opposition when it comes back for a vote next week.
But on Tuesday morning as Justice and Long took their seats on the newly composed board, Roche indicated that he wasn't done fighting the issue. In a six and a half minute statement that concluded with an admonition that he didn't care if it made him sound like a "right-wing Tea Party extremist," Roche said the issue should go before the public in the form of a referendum.