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Town board member says survey supports term limits plan

Town of Huntington Councilman Gene Cook in an

Town of Huntington Councilman Gene Cook in an undated file photo. Credit: Newsday

The results of a survey about term limits for elected officials in the Town of Huntington found that most of those who responded think term limits are a good idea and should be applied to all elected officials, town board member Gene Cook said.

There has been discussion over the years about whether elected officials in the town should be limited to eight years or 12 in office, and whether elected officials who do not make policy — such as the town clerk, receiver of taxes and highway superintendent — should be subject to term limits. There currently are no term limits in the town.

Cook initiated the survey, publicizing it through local media, hoping to hear from as many of the town’s more than 200,000 residents as possible, and even all Long Islanders on the topic.

Of the 51 responses received between June 22 and Wednesday, mostly via email, the majority preferred two four-year terms, not three terms.

“Now I know a lot of people feel the same way as I do: We need term limits,” said Cook, who was re-elected to his second term in 2015 and has said he won’t seek re-election.

He is drafting a resolution for the Aug. 15 town board meeting that would set a public hearing for September on term limits.

The hearing will focus on Cook’s proposed legislation to require limits of two four-year terms for the town supervisor, town board, town clerk, receiver of taxes and superintendent of highways.

The legislation also would require the town board to have a public referendum if they ever want to change the law, Cook said.

“I think term limits allow for better government,” Cook said. “What I really want is to see a better system for the residents and businesses of Huntington and term limits bring new people with fresh ideas.”

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, who has been in office 22 years, and town board member Mark Cuthbertson, who took his seat on the board in 1998, said they had not yet seen the plan to review it.

“I look forward to meeting with Councilman Cook next week to discuss this,” said Councilwoman Tracey Edwards, who has served in office since 2014.

Town board member Susan Berland, first elected in 2001, said she had not seen the plan, but thinks term limits should be decided upon by voters.

“Cook should have put this up in a timely manner to be a referendum on the general ballot in the November election,” Berland said. “To bring this issue up now, it’s just more political games.”

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