Huntington Town Councilman Gene Cook said that if he's re-elected in November, he won't run again due to his firm belief in term limits -- but he's not ruling out a future bid for town supervisor or another political office.
"I believe in it so much that I'm term-limiting myself," Cook, 53, of Greenlawn, said in an interview last week. "This is the last time."
He said he believes that two, four-year terms are appropriate for board members, and would create turnover that would bring new people and ideas into town leadership. He also said it would help keep politicians focused on issues instead of the influence of big-money donors. The topic has been key in his campaign to be re-elected in the general election on Nov. 3.
"I am trying my hardest to get in term limits" if he is re-elected, he said. "I believe that is the best way to go for the public."
The issue has been a priority for Cook since he was elected in 2011 to the town board. He ran for town supervisor against longtime incumbent Frank P. Petrone in 2013, losing by about 600 votes.
Cook, an Independence Party member who owns a Westbury-based asphalt and concrete company, introduced two proposals to institute term limits in 2013, which failed when he couldn't get support of Democrats on the board: Petrone and board members Susan Berland, of Dix Hills, and Mark Cuthbertson, of Huntington. "I am of the belief that elections are the most effective term limits that exist," Cuthbertson, who isn't up for re-election this cycle, said in an email Saturday.
Only former board member Mark Mayoka, a Republican, supported Cook's call for term limits at the time. Mayoka lost re-election in 2013 and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards took office.
When Cook pushed for term limits in 2013, Petrone said any debate on the issue must encompass all elected officials -- including the town clerk, highway superintendent and the receiver of taxes. Cook was opposed to that, and his resolutions failed.
Petrone spokesman A.J. Carter said Saturday that Petrone's position on a term-limit debate hasn't changed since Cook last brought the issue to the board.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Huntington Town Councilman Gene Cook's political affiliation.