Brooklyn Councilmembers Bill de Blasio and Letitia James Bronx Councilmember Annabel Palma

As members of the New York City Council, we are outraged by the mayor’s announcement to introduce legislation extending term limits. In the past 15 years, New York City’s voters have twice voiced their overwhelming support for enacting and upholding the law, which limits elected City officials to serving two four-year terms in office. While the merits of term limits are debatable, the merits of democracy are not. It is unconscionable for the mayor and the City Council to work in collusion against the will of the people we purportedly serve. Any changes to the current term limits law must and still can be decided by the people.
This is truly a sad moment for democracy in New York City. This blatant power grab has been blessed by nearly every newspaper in the city through pressure from our mayor and New York City’s business moguls. Well before the current financial crisis, Mayor Bloomberg met with the owners of our city’s largest media outlets this summer to garner their support for an extension to term limits. The results of those conversations are becoming more and more evident by the day. Every major paper’s editorial page has decreed the need for the Mayor to be able to run for another term, in some cases reversing former stances on term limits.
In addition, a number of the city’s publishing, corporate and real estate executives have released an ad urging the Council to extend term limits and promoting the mayor’s various accomplishments. What are we to do when the media - a critical information source charged with impartiality - is so clearly controlled by the whims of a few billionaires?
What the mayor failed to mention in his address was that term limits can actually be decided by the voters through a referendum and special election, which will likely be scheduled for February anyway to fill vacant Council seats. Voters could have an opportunity to decide term limits for themselves in a few short months-we should give it to them.
We must stand together strongly in opposition to this Machiavellian plan to upend the will of the people for the desires of the few. This attempt to change electoral laws for one person makes a mockery of our entire legislative process.
Our city has faced crises of all forms in the past, most notably 9/11 and the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, yet never before have we witnessed such complete disregard for the will of the people and such disrespect for our democratic process. No one person is supremely and solely qualified to run New York City; to claim otherwise is insulting to the voters who enacted term limits in the first place.
The mayor and the Council have drafted legislation to gift themselves at least one additional term. As we face the prospect of a vote on this proposed legislation, we urge our fellow Councilmembers to vote NO. Keep this decision in the hands of the voters where it belongs.

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