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Editorial: Yonkers voters said two terms, and meant it

City Hall on South Broadway in downtown Yonkers.

City Hall on South Broadway in downtown Yonkers. (Feb. 23, 2012) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

Voters in Yonkers should be grateful that an attempt to toss out the city's term limits law was squashed. It died a relatively quick and painless death.

A measure that would have tacked on four years to the existing eight- year limit allowed for city council members and the mayor won't be on the November ballot.

So for now, term limits that voters approved twice -- in 1994 and again in 2001 -- stand.

The city clerk's office invalidated the entire petition pushing the extension for not having the proper witnesses.Last week City Clerk Jose I. Alvarado also noted that of the 6,390 signatures, 4,324 weren't legitimate. Of those, a whopping 3,989 signatures weren't even from voters in Yonkers.

Adding merit to the rejection were three former City Council members -- John Murtagh, Dee Barbato and Joan Gronowski -- who, during their respective terms, abided by term limits and challenged this petition before the clerk's ruling.

They, too, were rightly suspicious of the petitioner's motives.

Supporters -- notably an opaque group called Yonkers Committee for Term Consistency -- said this proposal was about bringing parity to the city and making Yonkers' laws similar to those of Westchester County and New York City.

But much like those two instances, it smacks of politicians trying to hang on to a job. Despite success in changing the law in those places, it sends the wrong message to the electorate -- that laws they overwhelmingly approve won't stand.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported a two-term limit before he didn't. And then again after he was elected to a third term.

In the 1990s, then-City Councilman John D. Spencer supported term limits -- until 2001, when his time as mayor was just about up because of the law.

Yonkers has been down this road and it's no coincidence that it comes up when long-serving lawmakers reach that wall and have to go out and get another job. In this case, City Council president Chuck Lesnick, who many believe is connected to the petition drive, is the only lawmaker affected by term limits.

There's no need to change the city's term-limits law. Let's trust what voters have already said on this one.