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McKinstry: Surprise...term limit "consistency" is about longer terms

City Council President Chuck Lesnick speaks with Yonkers

City Council President Chuck Lesnick speaks with Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in Yonkers City Hall. (July 30, 2012) (Credit: Nancy Siesel)

The City of Yonkers is facing so many challenges with its finances, schools and other basics, so one does really have to wonder why a grass-roots organization wants to extend term limits for members of the mayor and City Council.

With an officially ho-hum name like the Committee for Term Limit Consistency (say it 10 times and you might just nod-off), this group on Monday announced its efforts to lead a petition drive to up terms limits: From two, four years terms to three, totaling 12 years.

In case you are wondering, all they want is some "consistency" with Westchester County and its 12 year limit. But on the surface, it sounds more like a power grab than a good government initiative. You have to wonder who is behind this push? (To their credit, their names are on the petition, but the question still looms.)

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When it comes to term limits, instituting them is a (much) easier sell. Extending them is right up there with hocking a warranty on a used washer at a garage sale – people aren’t buying it.

Ask Mayor John Spencer. Some of his supporters tried it in 2001 when he was nearing the end of his mayoral run. Back then he said elections were de facto limits. That movement went nowhere.

Or maybe New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He backed two terms, years after he had them overturned in 2008. When he ran a third time in 2009, his margin of victory was a lot closer than many people expected.

This Yonkers group says it is approaching it differently. Unlike New York City’s charter change with a City Council vote, the Committee for Term Limit Consistency, wants it on the ballot so that voters can decide.

That’s a better way to go. But my guess is that taxpayers, if they are even paying attention to this one, aren’t going to be all that excited about the issue. Voters, I suspect, will be more inclined to keep terms as they are – at eight years.

Pictured above: Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick speaks with Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in Yonkers City Hall. (July 30, 2012)

Tags: yonkers , term limits , committee for term limit consistency

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