DERRY — One town councilor's hopes of bringing more strict mask rules to town didn't pass with some of his fellow councilors.

Town Councilor Joshua Bourdon spoke at the Dec. 1 council meeting, saying he hoped the council might consider putting an ordinance in place to impose fines on those who were choosing not to wear masks following the governor's mask mandate announced recently.

Bourdon cited increasing COVID-19 numbers, saying having an official ordinance would give the mandate more teeth.

"Our job as leaders is to take a vote on whether we should impose fines," he said, "to show we are doing everything to shoot down this virus. I think we should consider acting, and I don't think we'll be alone."

Councilor Neil Wetherbee added his thoughts about economic development and how that ties in with what's going on with the virus.

"We've talked about economic development in this town for years," Wetherbee said. "There's a lot of confusion and disconnect between COVID and economic development and as long as COVID is around there will be no economic development. Anything we can do falls on us."

But others on the seven-person Council disagreed with Bourdon, saying it might be more of an education piece to get to the public, instead of forcing financial strains on those who are not masked.

"And who will be the mask police?" Chirichiello asked. "That needs to be part of it as well."

Others not agreeing with Bourdon's plan included Phyllis Katsakiores, Charlie Foote, Jim Morgan, and Richard Tripp.

Several councilors noted that local businesses were doing a good job keeping mask rules in place. Schools also have mask mandates in place for students and staff.

Morgan said it's not the council's role to impose strict financial consequences or force morality on the town when the nation is seeing so much division.

"People can't afford fines," Morgan said. "What happens if they can't afford it?"

Morgan noted that this type of a reactionary effort may have been better served coming sooner and from higher offices of government.

Local physician Chris Peterson did speak out at the meeting, saying he hoped the council would take a position of leadership and advocate for mask-wearing in town, saying there's no doubt they are effective.

"And the disease doesn't know politics and germs can affect anyone," Peterson said.

Councilor Richard Tripp didn't agree with imposing fines for not wearing masks, saying he socially distances and if that's done, he feels safe.

"I believe I am not contributing to the spread of the virus," Tripp said. "It may be a false conjecture on my part, but I don't believe so."

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