In a random poll of Queens City Council Members, five failed to answer if they support a third term for the city council.
Currently all city council members are limited to two four-year terms, but Brooklyn term-limited City Councilmember Jumaane Williams recently said he is drafting legislation at the end of the year to seek voter’s approval for a third term.
“I believe that in order to truly strengthen the power of the Legislative branch in our municipality, Councilmembers should have the opportunity to serve for three terms while the Executive serves for two terms – similar to how the Legislative branch extends beyond the Executive branch at the Federal level,” said Williams.
According to Williams’ plan, the mayor, public advocate or borough president will not be eligible to seek a third term.
The three-term limit was last voted down in 2010, two years after Councilmembers voted to approve a term-extension measure that former Mayor Bloomberg initiated. That was the third time New Yorkers voted to restrict terms to two – once in 1993 and again in 1996.
Among the Queens City Council Members that did not respond to QCP inquirees at post time if the would support a third term were Councilmembers Peter Koo (D-Flushing, Murray Hill), Karen Koslowitz (D-Rego Park, Kew Gardens, Forest Hills), Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona), Eric Ulrich (R-Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven), and Paul Vallone (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside).
City Councilmember Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Hills, Briarwood), whose term will end in 2021, referred to referendums in which New Yorkers preferred limiting term limits as evidence that the idea shouldn’t happen.
“Three terms is the right number, but the people have spoken three times already and that’s that,” he said.
Former City Council member and current State Sen. Tony Avella (D-College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Beechhurst, Malba, Auburndale) said any attempts to introduce a bill for three terms would be “shameful.”
“People should decide to run for public office because they want to do good by their community, not for a pension or government benefits. If this bill is truly about good government then it should clearly make three terms, if approved by the public, only eligible for the next class of City Council members and not current incumbents,” he said.
Furthermore, Avella said that if extending term limits comes to a public referendum again, he suspects many New York residents would defeat it for the fourth time.
“Why is there a need to revisit an issue that has already been publicly defeated three times?” he said.