Besides which candidate they want in office, voters will be asked to consider two questions on Election Day this year – one of which they answered already almost 20 years ago.
The New York City Charter Revision Commission (NYC CRC) adopted two ballot questions during a charter commission meeting on August 23; one relates to term limits and the other bundles together several recommendations related to government transparency, efficiency and integrity. Both questions are printed on the back of the paper ballots.
Since 2008, elected officials may serve up to three consecutive full terms after an initial vote in 1993 had established a limit of two full terms. Voters can now restore the original two-term limit with a vote; however, it would only apply to officials first elected to office this year.
This means that those currently in office, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and many City Council members, would not be affected by any change to the law.
Essentially a grandfather clause, the measure was narrowly passed after opponents argued for a counter measure that would have applied the new term limit law to all current office holders. However, the new measure also prevents Council members from voting to extend their own terms.
“In determining its term-limit recommendation, the commission followed an independent deliberative process that resulted in a proposal to phase in structural reform to the charter,” said Matthew Goldstein, chair of the NYC CRC. “The commission considered all options with a focus on improving government over the long term, rather than only focusing on how current officeholders might be affected.”
The Queens Civic Congress (QCC), a coalition of Queens’ major civic and community organizations, made their position on term limits clear, recommending that citizens vote ‘yes’ on that particular ballot proposal.
QCC President Patricia Dolan said that she had high hopes that CRC would conduct a top to bottom review of the city charter; however, she was left dissatisfied with the results.
“Only after wasting at least two public meetings on minutiae did the Commission turn to the issue that caused the mayor to appoint it: term limits,” said Dolan. “And then it came up with a compromise that satisfied neither term limit proponents nor term limit opponents.”
The second ballot measure to be put to voters bundles together a number of government reforms. Among them, cutting in half the number of signatures required to get on the ballot, requiring more disclosure by independent groups spending money on political campaigns and raising fines for ethical violations.
Editor’s Note: Go to www.nyc.gov/charter to read about how to vote on the charter revisions and to go more in depth into the all of the proposals.
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