By Adam Kramer
Queens politicians are divided on whether they want Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to continue his stewardship of the city for another three months after his term ends Dec. 31.
Since the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the majority of New Yorkers have praised the mayor’s handling of the rescue and clean-up effort, which led to a groundswell from city dwellers calling for him to extend his term.
Under the new term limits law, Giuliani is prevented from seeking another term. He has been a strong opponent of any move to repeal the measure approved in two voter referendums.
At first Giuliani claimed he was not interested in staying on after his term expires, but his shadow has lengthened over the Sept. 25 primary as he publicly expressed the desire to extend his stay in office by three months.
In order to extend Giuliani’s term by 90 days the state Legislature would have to pass a bill approving the measure and then Gov. George Pataki would have to sign it.
As it stands now, the bill would pass the Republican- controlled Senate, but in the Democratic-ruled Assembly it probably would be defeated.
In the last week, however, Giuliani’s quest for additional time in office appeared to have weakened, and some observers said the move to keep the mayor on beyond his official term may have been promoted by some of his top aides, who wanted to remain in office.
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) said any effort to keep Giuliani on for another three months was short-sighted because the city needs to move forward after the attack on the Twin Towers.
“Term limits — the people voted twice even though I was opposed to it, so we cannot now do something for one person,” he said. “We need to move on to have a new leader and let that leader determine whether he wants Giuliani involved or not.”
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) said he did not object to the extension, but the feeling in the state Senate was to do what was best for the city. He said he wants to wait until the Democratic mayoral runoff Oct. 11 between Public Advocate Mark Green and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer to gauge where the candidates stand.
Giuliani approached Green, Ferrer and GOP mayoral candidate Michael Bloomberg individually about extending his term for three months right after last week’s primary. Green and Bloomberg gave him their blessings, but Ferrer trashed the proposal. That prompted the mayor to say he would move to overthrow the term limit law and seek a third term.
“I have never been a term limits supporter, but since we have them, then we have to abide by what the law says,” said state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark.
“We don’t change horses midstream. I am not in support of Giuliani being extended and I am not in support of us changing the law at the state level in order to change the term limits law. People have to change them.”
Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) agreed with Meeks, even though he thinks the mayor has done a great job in the city’s time of need.
“The rule of law requires that he leave office,” Smith said. “When the mayor’s time is up on Dec. 31, he should leave office.”
But state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) differed with Meeks, Smith and Clark, saying she was open to the proposition, but wanted to see how things played out in Albany.
“It is a very unique crisis and I have never been a supporter of the mayor’s and I am very supportive of Freddy,” Nolan said. “I feel he (Ferrer) came to his conclusion very amicably and there are a lot of people who feel as Congressman Meeks does, but I am open to see what happens as the weeks go by.”
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.