PLYMOUTH – Mayor David Merchant will not be seeking re-election this November, stating the decision was made out of a desire to spend more time with his family.
Merchant, who made the announcement on Facebook Wednesday night, said it was a “very emotional” decision. Merchant told the Press Thursday morning hundreds of people reached out to him after he made the announcement to wish him well.
“I’ll soon be 75 and while I still feel good and I still have a lot of fight in me I’ve reached the point in my life where I need to make a decision,” he said. “My family has been encouraging me to do this and I need to move on to the next phase in my life. I want to spend more time with my wife and grandchildren.”
Merchant thanked the town for the support and encouragement they have given him during his time as mayor. He says he has a lot of positive accomplishments to look back on.
“It has always been my goal from my first day in office to make Plymouth a better place when I leave than when I arrived and we have accomplished that goal,” he said.
Merchant said the town worked its way through the “worst financial disaster we could have ever imagined” when former finance director David Bertnagel was found to have embezzled $800,000 from town funds. The town fund balance, he said, has now recovered and has a more than $4 million balance.
“We’ve been through some very difficult times between that financial disaster and covid and we’ve done a lot of good things despite those challenges,” Merchant said Thursday.
Merchant also pointed out during his tenure, the town received more than $6 million in grants to rebuild town roads, a new rear entrance was constructed at Eli Terry Middle School and sidewalks were constructed to allow students to walk safely from Main Street to Fisher Elementary School.
Other accomplishments, he said, include getting new lights on Main Street and streetlights throughout town, restoring the town’s historic water wheel, selling two abandoned schools and getting them back on the tax rolls, rebuilding the parking lot at town hall and building a new fire station.
“We have new businesses in town and should have at least three or four new buildings in our business park this summer, and we have a new community garden; the list goes on,” Merchant said. “There are still things I would like to see happen like a new police facility. I have been working with our state legislators and the prospect for us to receive funding is good. There will always be things that we would like to see happen, but for me, my time is now.”
In addition to his accomplishments as mayor, Merchant will also fondly remember serving with the Parks and Recreation Department and working on such projects as constructing the Recreation Area at Lake Winfield and the North Street reservoir recreation area, which he said are some of the most beautiful parts of town.
Merchant said he will serve out the rest of his term.
“I will remain here and continue to work hard for you as mayor until my time is up,” he said.
Merchant said his home is still in Plymouth and he will remain in town. However, he plans to spend the cold weather months “in a warmer climate.” He said he recently flew down to Fort Myers, Florida to watch his grandson play sports and he will now be able to do that more often.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.