Brookhaven Town Board considers extending its terms from two years to four

Brookhaven Town Hall in an undated photo. Brookhaven Town Hall in an undated photo. Photo Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

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The Brookhaven Town Board is planning to ask voters to double the length of members' terms and limit the number of years they may hold office.

Terms for the supervisor and all six members of the town council would be extended from two years to four years, and town board members would be limited to three terms, or 12 years, in office. Brookhaven currently does not have term limits.

Voters will be asked to approve the new terms and term limits in a November referendum, Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said last week.

The board is expected to hold a public hearing on the issue on July 15.

Romaine said extending the terms would allow council members to spend more time legislating and less time campaigning. It also would bring Brookhaven in line with Long Island's 12 other towns, where council members serve for four years.

"The council people in the Town of Brookhaven are the only council people on Long Island who serve two-year terms," Romaine said in an interview. "I think that members who have served in government know that four-year terms give government some stability. There's some stability that government isn't going to turn over every two years . . . and the fact that you aren't going to be campaigning every two years."

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He added that two-year terms cause board members to place too much focus on "short-term decisions rather than long-term decisions."

The changes would not affect other elected offices such as highway superintendent, which has a two-year term, and clerk, which carries a four-year term.

The last Brookhaven Town Board election was in November, when all seven seats were on the ballot. Romaine said that if the terms are extended, terms for all town board seats would continue to expire at the same time.

Civic activist Jim Gleason, a frequent critic of town government, agreed that longer terms may help shield board members from political concerns while they craft legislation.

"They can be more focused on the business of government, and less distracted by campaign issues if they have longer terms," said Gleason, vice president of the East Moriches Property Owners Association.

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