Quinn Abandons Term Limit Extension
December 3rd, 2007
The three dozen council members who will be kicked out of the chamber in 2009 will have no reprieve from Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
After members and the press speculated whether the council would consider bumping up its term limit law from two to three terms before a large majority of the body had to vacate their seats, Quinn released a statement this morning solidifying her position: No how, no way will she support a term limit extension.
That is a different outlook from what she argued when lobbying members during her run for the speaker post.
Along with 35 other members, Quinn is term-limited, and it is widely speculated that she will make a run at mayor.
When Quinn landed the council’s top post, she promised her fellow members they would revisit the city’s term limit rule – which bans officials from holding a third term in any city seat. Most figured she would bump up the cap from eight years to 12.
For example, this is what Quinn said at a debate in 2005 when she was vying for the council speaker seat.
“I also oppose term limits for some of the reasons David (Weprin) mentioned and others. I think it doesnít allow elected officials enough time to become experts on the issues we need to be experts on in the legislature. And also, it does overly empower the staff…at city hall. I think we should make changes to term limitations legislatively. It is an issue I would want to discuss immediately with my colleagues if I were elected speaker. I’m inclined to think 12 years is the right timeframe, but I’m not committed to that because I think it really is a decision we all have to come to collectively in the new city council.”
Here is just a sample of what she said this morning: “I will neither support legislation nor will I seek or support a new referendum eliminating or altering term limits.”
Is this a reform-minded change of heart or her executive ambitions?
In the last several weeks, the term limit discussion resurfaced in the press and in City Hall, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg saying just yesterday he would allow a term limit question on the ballot.
While some members recently expressed support for extending the term limit rule, it is obvious that it has also helped heat up citywide and state races because so many members will be looking for new jobs.
Here is Quinn’s full statement:
“After careful consideration and discussions with my colleagues in the council, I have decided not to pursue a change in New York City’s term limit law. I will neither support legislation nor will I seek or support a new referendum eliminating or altering term limits.
Over the last two years, the City Council has pursued an agenda of reform and democratization. We have strengthened our lobbying and campaign finance laws, increased transparency in the budget process and improved our constituent services by implementing CouncilStat. I believe that overruling the will of New Yorkers – who have voted twice in favor of term limits – would be anti-democratic and anti-reform.
While our City is certainly doing well, we still face many challenges. On education, jobs, housing and health care, working New Yorkers need our help. That means the council and the administration must focus our attention on these critical issues and not be distracted by a political debate over term limits – a matter that has already been settled by the voters.
I look forward to working with my colleagues over the next two years to make New York and an even greater place to live.”By Courtney Gross on December 3, 2007, 11:43 am
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