The best term limit has always been the right of voters to march up to the ballot box and vote out the politicians who've dissatisfied them. To do that, though, those voters need options.
In Suffolk County, they aren't really getting them, which means that even though a court decision last week allowing District Attorney Thomas Spota to seek a fourth term is legally correct, the political situation almost makes it seem otherwise.
The state's highest court was right to rule that the term limits Suffolk County voters approved in 1993 by better than 2 to 1 don't apply to the district attorney post. That job, along with those of sheriff and county clerk, is governed by state law, not county law. And, of course, if 70 percent of Suffolk voters still feel strongly that they don't want county officials serving more than 12 years, they could just vote Spota out, right? Not really.
Spota is the cross-endorsed candidate of the Democratic, Conservative and Independence parties. He's also endorsed by the Republican Party, although he does face a primary opponent for that line in challenger Raymond Perini. So registered Republicans have a choice on Sept. 10, but in the general election, Spota will most likely run unopposed.
Suffolk County party leaders John Jay LaValle (Republican) and Richard Schaffer (Democrat) traded cross-endorsements for this job, as well as the sheriff post held by Vincent DiMarco and the treasurer slot of Angie Carpenter in 2009. Independence and Conservative party leaders fell right in line with the deal-making and line-swapping too. It appears almost certain the same will happen this year, with none of those candidates facing opposition.
Voters have the right to make choices between qualified candidates, but they need the opportunity. And that's what has to change, by banning cross-endorsements.