New Yorkers declared an emphatic “yes” to both ballot proposals on Election Day. With the vote, elected officials can now only serve up to two terms.
“The true beneficiaries of the approval of the New York City Charter Revision Commission’s recommendations by the voters are the people of our city. They are now assured of long-term structural reforms that will help improve the functioning and accountability of their city government,” said Matthew Goldstein, chair of the New York City Charter Revision Commission (NYCCRC). “I want to especially thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his steadfast support of an independent review of the City Charter which helped pave the way for today’s voter approval.”
Since 2008, politicians have been allowed to serve up to three consecutive full terms after an initial vote in 1993 had established a limit of two full terms. With the ballot proposal landslide, voters restored the original two-term limit – however, it only applies to officials first elected to office this year.
The new term limits do not apply to all current office holders – meaning Michael R. Bloomberg keeps his office. However, the new measure also prevents councilmembers 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 Goldstein. “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 NYC CRC adopted two ballot questions during a charter commission meeting this past summer; one related to term limits and the other bundled together several recommendations related to government transparency, efficiency and integrity.
Among the recommendations in the second measure involved 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.
Voters in some districts complained that the ballot measures – the second one especially – were confusing and hard to read, given the small print.
One voter at P.S. 101Q in Forest Hills said that the second proposal was really long and that, “whoever is in charge of that sort of thing should consider changing the font size.”