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Long IslandPolitics

Town board votes against hearing on term limits

A sign outside Huntington Town Hall is seen

A sign outside Huntington Town Hall is seen in an undated photo. Credit: Alexi Knock

A resolution to set a date for a public hearing to consider term limits for elected officials in the Town of Huntington failed to get enough support to be scheduled.

Board member Gene Cook offered the resolution Tuesday proposing that the town supervisor, town board members, town clerk, receiver of taxes and highway superintendent may not serve more than two consecutive terms in the same elective office.

At the meeting, board member Tracey Edwards offered an amendment that would have made the limit three, four-year terms, to which Cook agreed. Cook then said he wanted to take the receiver of taxes and town clerk positions out of the resolution.

But Supervisor Frank Petrone and board members Mark Cuthbertson and Susan Berland balked at the proposed amendments, citing their preference that all elected officials be included in the proposed law. Berland added that a term-limit proposal should be put to a public referendum.

The amended resolution was called to a vote and failed 3-2, with Cook and Edwards voting for it.

“I’m disappointed,” Cook said after the meeting. “Term limits creates competition like in business, which leads to new blood and new ideas which is good for the public.”

In June, Cook began a survey seeking the opinions of residents on whether they wanted term limits, which elected officials they would apply to, and how long a term should last.

He got about 61 responses, with the majority saying they supported term limits and they should apply to all elected officials, including the town clerk, receiver of taxes and highway superintendent. The majority of respondents preferred two four-year terms.

Cook’s board colleagues cited the low response to his survey for their lack of support of term limits, something Cook acknowledged.

Petrone, who has been in office 22 years, said at the meeting that with all the amendments it was clear to him that there needs to be more deliberation and that board members had not spoken with each other about it.

“We need time to figure it out,” he said. “Plus I am retiring — maybe someone else should be sitting in my position making those decisions.”

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