Rutland city to vote on fluoride, Aldermen

By Katy Savage

Rutland City voters will decide on whether to change the language of a charter to remove fluoride from the water on Town Meeting Day, March 5.

Residents and professionals had mixed emotions at a Jan. 29 public hearing.

Some residents said having fluoride in the city water is a violation of medical ethics, while dentists said having fluoride in water helps prevent tooth decay, particularly for those who can’t otherwise afford dental care.

Joseph Errante, the vice president of provider network and clinical strategies at Northeast Delta Dental and a dentist of 45 years, said chronic tooth decay is a disease.

“This will end up being a catastrophe for the city of Rutland,” he said, explaining most dentists in the area are nearly 70 years old and there may not be enough dentists to meet the future demand.

The fluoride issue appeared on the ballot back in 2016, when about 60% of residents rejected the charter change.

“It costs money for people who don’t want it in their water to remove it from the water and I think it’s unfair to put the onus on the people who don’t want it in their water,” said Lopi Laroe, a local artist in Rutland.

Budget up 7%

Voters will also decide on a $25,128,435 city budget, which is up about 7% from last year’s  $23,261,061 budget.

Most of the increase comes from an 18% salary increase for police.

Seven Aldermen candidates

There are seven candidates running for five seats on the Rutland City Board of Aldermen. Larry Cupoli and Cheryl Hooker aren’t seeking reelection while incumbents Sharon Davis, Anna Tadio, and Michael Talbott will appear on the ballot again.

Matt Whitcomb, who previously served on the board, is also running again, along with political newcomer Eddie Grove, former City Clerk Henry Heck and Bob Pearo Jr.

The candidates appeared at a forum recorded by PegTV on Feb. 21

Davis, who has served on the board for 34 years,  said she brings “a check and balance to the board.”

Davis said she’s concerned about the growing tax rate in the city and crime.

Talbott,a communication professor at Castleton University, has served two terms on the board and spent the last year as the president. He moved to Rutland 10 years ago, explaining Rutland offered him the best quality of life.

“My number one priority is housing,” said Talbot.

Whitcomb, who previously served on the board for five years, works as a senior healthcare administrator. Whitcomb is hoping to rejoin the Aldermen to focus on policing issues.

“We have to figure out how to recruit and retain officers,” he said.

Grove said this is his first time running for office. He works as a graphic designer and is an avid mountain biker who moved to town last year from Maryland.

Grove said he’s running to be a “positive change for the community… Hopefully the ideas I have are good at that,” he said.

Heck, a lifelong Vermont resident, was on the board for three years prior to 2007, when he became the city town clerk.

Heck was ousted from the clerk position after a political clash with newly elected Mayor Mike Doenges last March.

Heck said his extensive knowledge about the city and elections would benefit the city.

Tadio, who grew up in Rutland, works as an attorney in Rutland City and is seeking re-election.

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