Time for the mayor and council to leave
Posted in the Georgetown Forum
#1 Jul 8, 2013
#2 Jul 8, 2013
Term Limits Stay 8 Years
New York City voters rejected a ballot proposal yesterday that would have extended the amount of time the city's elected officials can stay in office, voting instead to keep the existing limit of two terms, or eight years.
The proposal, placed on the ballot by the City Council, would have lengthened to 12 years the eight-year limit that voters overwhelmingly approved three years ago. With the referendum's defeat, the Mayor, the Comptroller, the Public Advocate, borough presidents and virtually all 51 City Council members can run for re-election only one more time and will have to step down in 2001. If Mayor Rudolph W. Guiliani runs for re-election next year and wins, the next term would be his last.
With about 90 percent of the precincts reporting at 12:15 A.M. today, the vote was:
Yes ..........460,825 (46%)
No ..........530,k899 (54%)
Opponents of the proposal had feared that the Council's 123-word ballot question would be confusing and that many voters who favored shorter term limits would mistakenly vote yes.
But their campaign apparently reached enough people who favored the existing term limit law to defeat the proposal.
The vote was a blow to the city's Democratic establishment, which had marshaled thousands of volunteers to work telephone banks and pass leaflets to voters across the city in the last few weeks. Still, they could not match the $2 million television campaign mounted by the cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder.
Peter F. Vallone, the City Council Speaker, spearheaded the effort to extend term limits, and his aides had confidently predicted victory. Mr. Vallone has said that he might consider running for governor, and the campaign for the proposal was seen by many as Mr. Vallone's trial run at winning support beyond his Council district in Queens.
''We did as good a job as we possibly could to educate the public,'' Mr. Vallone said last night,''and we had a lot of volunteers with us, but we couldn't overcome the cynicism or the money.''
He added that he would not try to challenge the term limits law again.''As far as I'm concerned, this was the majority vote of the people, and it will stand.''
Opponents, principally the group New Yorkers for Term Limits, said the proposal's defeat showed that voters wanted to end the practice of making careers in politics. Mr. Lauder created New Yorkers for Term Limits three years ago; it used extensive television campaigns that year and this year.
''The fact is, term limits are a part of New York, and now they'll always be a part of New York,'' Mr. Lauder said last night.''Voters want fresh ideas.''
Supporters of the proposed change maintained that extending the limit to three terms - or 12 years - would allow more natural attrition and therefore a smoother transition.
But while they wrapped their efforts in rhetoric declaring the proposal an attempt to guarantee good government, their campaign was frequently criticized as little more than a self-interested attempt to extend their tenures.
Opponents of the proposal argued that the wording of the ballot question was particularly deceptive and was intended to trick voters who favor keeping the present term-limit law into voting yes.
They said that because the measure was called a proposal on ''term limits and staggered terms,'' voters who were unaware that term limits already existed would assume that a yes vote would enact term limits, not extend them.
At the polls yesterday, Mr. Roth's fears proved to be well founded in at least some cases.
Mary Albert, a Republican Party district leader on the Upper East Side, said she voted for the two-term limit in 1993.''I try to be well-informed on issues like this, so I voted yes,'' she said.
When she learned that a yes vote actually meant she was voting to extend the two-term limit to three terms, she shook her head and said:''I guess I'm not as informed as I though I was. But politicians always can find a way to get these things in, don't they?''.
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