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Brookhaven voters OK longer terms, term limits for elected officials

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine delivers his

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine delivers his annual state of the town address at town hall in Farmingville on April 3. Credit: James Carbone

Brookhaven voters approved a measure Tuesday  to lengthen terms for elected town officials and limit them to 12 years in office.

The proposition, which doubles the terms for the supervisor and town council members from two years to four, was passed by 58.2 percent of voters, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

The new rules take effect in January 2020, after town elections are held next November. 

Brookhaven officials said longer terms will give them more time to do their jobs before they need to run for re-election. Term limits, they said, would ensure regular turnover of elected officials.

“Every two years you got to run, you wish you had longer terms,” Councilman Neil Foley said Wednesday, adding that all six town council districts showed majorities approving the proposition. “It will take the focus off campaigning and put the focus on constituent issues," he said. "That’s what we’re elected to do.”

Town officials said the measure would create uniform four-year terms for all elected officials and restore the term limits that officials said had been eliminated unintentionally in 2002 when Brookhaven adopted a ward system for council members.

Under the current system, Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, Highways Superintendent Dan Losquadro and the six town council members serve two-year terms. Those terms will be doubled to four years. Town Clerk Donna Lent and Receiver of Taxes Louis J. Marcoccia already serve four-year terms.

The new system will cap all elected officials to three four-year terms, or a total of 12 years. Term limits will not be retroactive for current officials.

Opponents of the changes, including some Brookhaven civic and activist groups, argued that doubling terms would limit residents' ability to vote town officials out of office. Some civic leaders also argued that a new term limits vote was unnecessary because limits had been passed in a previous proposition in 1993.

Will Ferraro, co-chair of the Brookhaven Action Network, a political activist group, said members knocked on the doors of nearly 2,000 homes and found many residents had not been aware of the proposition.

“Most people didn't even know what they were voting on,” said Ferraro, who opposed the measure. “Once they understand what they were voting on, most people were an overwhelming no.”

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