The Brightwaters Village Board has narrowly approved a new law instituting term limits for elected officials.
The board of trustees voted 3-2 in favor of the law at its Jan. 4 monthly board meeting. Mayor Joe McDermott, Deputy Mayor Diane Urso and trustee Christian Sullivan voted for term limits, while trustees Laurie Elliott and Bernadette Whitwell voted against the resolution.
The new law mandates term limits of four consecutive two-year terms for mayor and trustees. The law is not retroactive so it will only affect officials elected from this year forward.
Aside from McDermott, who was elected trustee in 2013 and mayor in 2014, this is the first term for all of the trustees on the village board.
Urso said she voted for the law because she and McDermott campaigned on term limits during the 2013 elections for the board. Brightwaters has about 3,300 residents, and its small-village mentality can make it difficult to encourage people to run for office, she said.
“It’s something we believe in,” she said. “It’s a small village, and when you have a small demographic of people, it’s challenging to run against an incumbent when you know everybody. It makes it more challenging for other people to step up and enter public service.”
Urso added that term limits would bring new ideas to village hall as well. “You get turnover and freshness and you don’t have 20 years of people being in the same place,” she said. “It gives people an opportunity to participate in municipal politics.”
Trustee Laurie Elliott said she voted against term limits because she thought the village was small enough to guide itself with informal, personal policy regarding elected officials.
“It’s small-town politics and small-town municipalities,” she said. “At this level you don’t need a whole lot of laws. The more laws you make, the more confusing it can get.”