At a time when many politicians use the term limits issue as a talking point or grudge against the political system, politicians in Brookhaven County on Long Island have passed a resolution that would add more years onto their terms of service, not less, contrary to what some politicians would want.
The town board voted 7 to 0 to approve putting the measure on the ballot on election day. The vote which was conducted on August 2, drew bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans. “It is difficult to work for six months and then go campaigning,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright a Democrat said regarding the issue.
If approved, terms for town supervisor, town council members and the highway superintendent would be affected. The current terms of service for all three positions are two years but if approved the term limits would be raised from two years to four years and will place a cap for term limits at 12 years.
A similar effort was rejected in the Long Island town of Riverhead in 2016. That measure would have increased the town’s supervisor’s position from four years to two years, but the ballot measure failed on a vote of 3 to two. The vote took place on Tuesday, August 21. The vote was along partisan measures with 3 Republicans voting against and 2 Democrats voting for.
Voters rejected ballot measures in 2005, 2007 and 2016 where it would have done the same and increased the town supervisor term.
“Whoever would be elected, I think a four-year term would be beneficial to them, Republican or Democrat, at the next election,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens- Smith said regarding the possible extension.
Democrat Town Councilwoman Catherine Kent, agreed with the supervisor saying, “I see it as something that is good for our town. I think it gives us an opportunity for more consistency and it gives the supervisor more time to get things done.”
The town of Brookhaven has yet to try to pass an effort for term limit extensions. The town of Brookhaven has no term limits and several Long Island town officials have no term limits.
“It’s a very complicated issue,” said Don Seubert of the Medford Taxpayers and civic association. “And to roll it into one proposition is not good for the public,” he continued. Medford is part of the town of Brookhaven.
Concluding, the issue of term limits is an important one and which should be discussed openly with the public. Politicians trying to increase their power by extending their term limits must be guarded against as it ultimately means extending their influence over their constituents’ lives.
Links to sources:
- Newsday Riverhead article: https://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/riverhead-town-term-limits-1.20633722
- Newsday Brookhaven article: https://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/term-limits-town-board-brookhaven-1.20276992