Oyster Bay Councilman Anthony Macagnone proposed 12-year term limits on all town elective offices at Tuesday’s town board meeting.
Macagnone’s term limit proposal, along with another proposal to prohibit commissioners and deputy commissioners from serving in leadership roles in political organizations, were made as walk-on resolutions and took board members by surprise.
The audience applauded his motions but neither were seconded and died after discussion among the board and a town attorney.
Macagnone said he proposed them this way because he “wanted them to see the light of day.”
“I wanted to get something started,” Macagnone said.
Councilman Joseph Muscarella, who has served on the board since 1995, said he was “caught off guard.”
“From nowhere comes this resolution,” Muscarella said during the discussion. “We should look at it, should present it to the council members. We should make an intelligent decision.”
Chief Deputy Town Attorney Frank Scalera told the board that term limits would need to be adopted as a law after a public hearing rather than as a board resolution.
“If we pass a change like this and we don’t do it by local law, we’re doing it incorrectly,” Scalera said.
Macagnone told Scalera that he wanted the town attorney’s office to research the issues and report back to him.
Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said she supported Macagnone in principle but was concerned about the procedure and having time to review the proposals.
“Let’s look at it and let’s discuss further,” Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said.
Several Long Island towns have enacted term limits, most recently Huntington, which passed a law in January that limits the town supervisor, town council members, town clerk, receiver of taxes and superintendent of highway to three consecutive terms in one office. Riverhead and Islip also have term limits on the town supervisor and town board.
On Wednesday, Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr. said in an interview that he supported term limits for elective offices.
“It should not be a career,” Altadonna said. “It should be a calling, it should be a call to service.”
Term limits were part of the Oyster Bay Democrats’ campaign platform in 2017. Republicans swept that election, holding on to all elective town offices.