DURANGO, CO. — Defiantly declaring that pesticides used to control weeds and insects are safe when used as directed and stating “I don’t believe we’re making any children sick here,” the mayor of this remote town led the charge on a 5-0 vote late Tuesday night against an ordinance that would have removed both synthetic chemical pesticides — and fertilizers — from all town-owned property.
That is only the beginning of the fight, however, in the highly independent Home Rule Municipality in the southwest corner of the state. Because organizers of the petition drive collected more than 1,000 signatures in support of what would be a historic restriction on synthetic fertilizers as well as pesticides, the initiative may now be placed on the November ballot for the town’s 16,000-plus residents to decide.
The issue of lawn care pesticides is invariably polarizing. No matter where the debate has raged in the nearly three decades since Hudson, Quebec, began hearing from Dr. June Irwin back in 1985, some folks believe the pesticides like 2,4-D and Roundup are safe; others feel that these products fall somewhere between dangerous and lethal.
Despite the city council’s 5-0 vote against the petition, Blair, Gourley and their group of organizers still hold the best cards in this spirited poker match. If they allow the issue to go to the November ballot in an election year — in which the state of Colorado is also debating the legalization of marijuana — they know they will probably win. Numerous polls have shown that younger voters especially favor anti-pesticide initiatives.