Gas drilling takes center stage in Plymouth election

PLYMOUTH – All five candidates running for election to the Plymouth Town Council agree that shale gas production issues – from instituting road use law to an out-right drilling moratorium – will be on the government’s agenda in the coming years.

Incumbent Republican Councilman Gary Simpson, 64, is finishing his first, four-year term in office. An active participant in monthly Chenango County Natural Gas Advisory Committee meetings, Simpson said his main objective, if elected to office again, would be to make sure Plymouth isn’t saddled with highway repairs and maintenance costs from the gas industry’s anticipated heavy truck traffic. He said the board is currently reviewing the county’s proposed road use law and is waiting to see how the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation proceeds with its sweeping regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing before proceeding.

Simpson said he is proud to have been instrumental in budgeting for and proceeding with the $360,000 building project at the firehouse and also for locating an income-generating AT&T cell tower on town property. The new town hall structure will accommodate both a courtroom and boardroom.

“It was budgeted for over a number of years, and will be completely paid for once finished,” he said. Near-term future projects would include holding the line on taxation and improving the town’s site for sand storage, he added.

Incumbent Councilman Lewis W. Somers, 77, has been a member of the Plymouth Town Board for 18 years. He is retired, after having worked for 30 years at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and, later, Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals. While he didn’t have any specific comment regarding natural gas related activities in the town, he said he is always “in favor of anything that’s good for the Town of Plymouth and for the majority of the people.”

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